Food for thought: food insecurity in women attending community colleges

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Forum on public policy

Publication Date



To investigate food insecurity in community college students, our research team developed a mixed methods study. For the first phase, we interviewed 16 Maryland community college administrators to determine which community colleges had food banks or food pantries. The second phase involved gathering in depth information from 6 community college leaders who have food pantries on their campuses, about food insecurity and student success. Phase 3 consisted of surveying 200+ community college students in Fall 2017, using a survey that measured food insecurity and student success, defined as what students must do to successfully complete their college program. For this project, student success includes two elements that can lead to completion – concentration levels and energy levels, and one traditional metric of success, grade point average (GPA). Our research validates earlier studies and highlights the particular problem areas for women students in community colleges. We found that they are more likely to be food insecure than men attending community colleges. In addition, the most food insecure students in our research were single parents and minority women. Moreover, using a Pell Grant to pay for school was a predictor of food insecurity for women in general. Finally, women over 20 were almost three times more likely to be food insecure than younger women.






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