Assessing Food Insecurity in Higher Education


October 22, 2021 - Sidney Brandhorst, <>, <>

Up until somewhat recently, college students have been largely overlooked in the food security literature. Despite their status as legal adults, they are often outliers in the estimated levels of adult (11.5%) food insecurity in the U.S.

College students who are moving into more independent living situations may struggle with the transition to college, including providing their own food. Additionally, college students are often enrolled full time in classes, making it difficult for them to work enough to pay for their schooling, housing, and of course, their food. Because of the new and unique situations college students are in, it is especially important to understand the struggles they face in obtaining food and the outcomes that are associated with low levels of food security.

We outline a survey tool that asks about undergraduate and graduate students’ ability to access and utilize food and the relevant demographic and socio-economic drivers. The survey can be adapted to the context of any university and its knowledge gaps as the goal is to foster better informed university policies for addressing undergraduate and graduate student barriers to food security.

This more comprehensive approach to improving food utilization and access may drive improved academic outcomes and student wellbeing in higher education.

Download the file to access the survey tool!

Recommended citation

Brandhorst, S., Hodbod., J. & Kaplowitz, K. (2021). Assessing Food Insecurity in Higher Education. East Lansing, MI: Department of Community Sustainability, Michigan State University.



Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at