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Prevalence of food insecurity and satisfaction with on-campus food choices among Australian university students

Sandra Murray (School of Health Sciences, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Australia)
Corey Peterson (Infrastructure Services and Development, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia)
Carmen Primo (Infrastructure Services and Development, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia)
Catherine Elliott (Infrastructure Services and Development, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia)
Margaret Otlowski (College of Arts Law and Education, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia)
Stuart Auckland (Centre for Rural Health, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Australia)
Katherine Kent (Centre for Rural Health, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Australia)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 8 March 2021

Issue publication date: 2 July 2021

585

Abstract

Purpose

Food insecurity and poor access to healthy food is known to compromise tertiary studies in university students, and food choices are linked to student perceptions of the campus food environment. The purpose of this study is to describe the prevalence, demographic and education characteristics associated with food insecurity in a sample of Australian university students and their satisfaction with on-campus food choices.

Design/methodology/approach

An online, cross-sectional survey conducted as part of the bi-annual sustainability themed survey was conducted at the University of Tasmania in March 2020. A single-item measure was used to assess food insecurity in addition to six demographic and education characteristics and four questions about the availability of food, affordable food, sustainable food and local food on campus.

Findings

Survey data (n =1,858) were analysed using bivariate analyses and multivariate binary logistic regression. A total of 38% of respondents (70% female; 80% domestic student; 42% aged 18–24 years) were food insecure. Overall, 41% of students were satisfied with the food available on campus. Nearly, half (47%) of food insecure students were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the availability of affordable food on campus. A minority of students were satisfied with the availability of sustainable food (37%) and local food (33%) on campus.

Originality/value

These findings demonstrate a high prevalence of food insecurity and deficits in the university food environment, which can inform the development of strategies to improve the food available on campus, including affordable, sustainable and local options.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding: This project did not receive funding.

Citation

Murray, S., Peterson, C., Primo, C., Elliott, C., Otlowski, M., Auckland, S. and Kent, K. (2021), "Prevalence of food insecurity and satisfaction with on-campus food choices among Australian university students", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 731-746. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-09-2020-0348

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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