Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Food Studies


Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern


campus food security;class;college students;food access

Subject Categories

Food Science | Life Sciences


Assumptions around the class privilege of college students are misconstrued. Food insecurity rates among college students (between 20-50%) far outweigh the rate of food insecurity nationally (12%) (Dubick et al., 2016). With the rising cost of tuition, insufficient financial aid, and the growth of first-generation and lower income students entering higher education, an increasing number of college students are struggling to balance paying for tuition and basic needs such as food. This paper looks at how factors such as race, undergraduate year, first-generation status, and employment status impact a student’s likelihood of being food insecure. While most studies focus on financial barriers to food access, this study recognizes barriers of access such as time and transportation, breaking down the social and classed assumptions of students in higher education. Utilizing a mixed methods approach, including survey and qualitative interview data over the course of two years at Gonzaga University, a private liberal arts college in the US Pacific Northwest, my research reveals that not only were 36% of the surveyed population food insecure, but also that the most defining, frequent, and statistically significant predictor of food insecurity was being a working student. This was followed by race, first-generation status, and undergraduate year. This research dispels assumptions associated with college students and privilege. I argue that paying attention to student food insecurity in higher education can uncover hidden class-based inequalities of campus spaces.


Open Access

Included in

Food Science Commons



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