Food insecurity is defined as a household level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity; however, college students are an at risk population. The prevalence of food insecurity among college students ranges from 14%-59%, higher than the national average of 10.2%. Colleges have implemented their own food pantries, yet they remain underutilized due to barriers, such as stigma. The food environment, which is comprised of the dimensions that impact one’s acquisition of food, is a poorly explored framework in the improvement of food pantry utilization. The aims of this study were to understand how the dimensions of the food environment increase food pantry effectiveness and to determine student perceptions of the desirability and accessibility of the Ramily Market, the food pantry at Thomas Jefferson University. This was done through an online cross-sectional survey. Around 71.3% of respondents had never used the Ramily Market and 14% had never used a food pantry. Respondents did not find the Ramily Market display desirable, but they do not associate it with stigmatizing language. Food pantries should consider how their display impacts client perceptions and experience. The stigma that is associated with food pantries may not be solely rooted in social expectations, but more so their offerings and presentation. Food insecurity in graduate students is an overlooked public health issue. While food pantries can augment the physical environment to improve experience and usage, food insecurity is a systemic issue that must be addressed at an institutional level.
Freedman, Julianne, "Student Perceptions of the Desirability and Accessibility of an On-Campus Food Pantry" (2023). Master of Public Health Capstone Presentations. Presentation 498.