How does Food Insecurity Affects Education?

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Updated on September 7, 2022 by
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Studying in a School for higher education is a challenging and demanding task since it takes up as much, if not more, hours of dedication, active thinking, and concentration as a full-time job. In addition to the usual stressors, as the insecure situation arises, in a year’s worth of studies, like getting all your progress graded and compared to others, one of the most important factors seems to get overlooked. That would be the food – the fuel they burn to keep going those long hours and be able to actively use their minds and senses for effective learning. However, there is a functional problem concerning the everyday quality of food and nutrition they access.

What Is Food Insecurity?

Opposite of what seems everyday normality to most people, enough amounts of healthy food is not a specific aspect for all college students. The basic nutritional needs and overall topics about food insecurity can strongly impact the studies since hunger has a long-term effect on their bodies. The lack of nutrients also devastates their intellectuality and physical ability to learn in classes actively. Food insecurity is a state in which a person can find themselves either with a long-term problem or a temporary situation. Food security comes down to four main points contributing to this situation. They are an actual supply of the food, access to it, utilization of the quality and nutritional value, and food stability as a consistent ability to meet the needs of a developing person.

How does Food Insecurity Affects Education?

What are students more vulnerable to food insecurity risks?

Long-term and short-term food insecurities can arise from housing problems, low family incomes, health problems, and overall security in the college student community. Unfortunately, studies have shown that ethnicity and race can aid in finding yourself in this type of situation, as black students and persons with another racial background suffer more likely from food insecurity, which makes minorities more vulnerable to this problem. It has also been shown to influence more of these students who are first-generation students. This factor may come from the fact that first-generation students’ parents might not be qualified enough to keep a steady home or a job. That would give them a stable and good enough wage to feed the whole family regularly with food with sufficient nutritional value. Growing living expenses also play their part in this problem since many families can not make enough extra money to keep up with the rising prices.

What indicators are important

A few indicators that result directly from food insecurity can be noticed in a student that faces this problem. Knowing and understanding these indicators can make it easier to help a student in need. It also shows that many everyday school situations nowadays might not be only stress-based issues but a hunger problems that can be fixed. Therefore, even though malnutrition, especially in the growing state the students are in, can have some devastating results, it is still possible to make things better.

Academic achievement

Students with food insecurity do not have enough fuel to keep their bodies going, so it can manifest as decreased academic achievements even if they try their best to keep up with their studies. Their brain needs proper nutrition to help them learn; without it, learning and remembering new things is challenging.

Health and development

It can also affect their overall health, forcing them to take breaks in studies to take some time to heal or cause long-term problems like depression and anxiety. These mental health issues can take a devastating toll on them and can’t be fixed in a short period, even when food insecurity itself is a short-term issue.


Food insecurity can even be a critical factor in getting overweight because, in most places, food with low quality in nutrients and high in fat and sugar is more affordable. As a result, they just might be forced to eat junk food in large quantities to keep their stomachs full.

Approaches to Addressing Food Insecurity in College Settings

How does Food Insecurity Affects Education?

The first thing that needs to be done to address this problem is to evaluate the reach of food insecurity on campus since it’s difficult to fix a problem without an overview of its extent. Suppose the scope of the situation is clear. In that case, it’s possible to help by keeping the dining halls and all other meal solutions accessible to people as long as possible and try to arrange steady food coverage as a nutrition service during breaks as well, working together with the hospitality providers. It’s also possible to implement a program to help students to share meals by allowing donating unused meals from their plans. Putting up food pantries for schools to stack so any student can take some food if they are hungry without the need to prove their situation would also help.


Food insecurity can be more widespread than it might seem at first. Not knowing where your next meal comes from can devastate learning abilities and even people’s overall mental health. It’s also important to keep an eye out for the majority that is much more vulnerable to this situation, as studies show that they suffer more frequently. It’s also important to remember that even short-term food insecurity can have long-lasting effects on studies and overall health. Students that suffer from food insecurity in the short-term and long-term might need some help fighting the situation, so it is essential to do what can be done to ease their problem.

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