Campus Location

Abilene Campus (Residential)

Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Document Type



Social Work

Degree Name

Master of Science

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Dr. Alan Lipps

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Bre Heinrich

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Nikki Rhodes


Food insecurity is defined by the U.S Department of Agriculture as “the uncertain or limited ability to get adequate food due to lack of financial resources” (Watson, Malan, Glik, & Martinez, 2017, p. 130). It tends to go unnoticed, and the size of the vulnerable population cannot be fully depicted because of stigma in seeking help. One study could only estimate from findings that 14% to 59% of students will be food insecure at some point throughout their college years (Henry, 2017). Food insecurity is affecting students’ social and mental health, diet choices, and physical well-being. Food insecurity is only one of many possible mediating factors on mental health and vice versa. There is an underwhelming amount of research on correlations between the two.

This study is a mixed methods exploratory survey study investigating a convenience sample of young adults attending Hardin-Simmons University (HSU) within the 2018-2019 school year. The research utilizes quantitative data to analyze the following: frequency for the desire for a food pantry, prevalence of food insecurity, levels of food insecurity on campus per individual, and symptoms of mental health. Qualitative data is used to examine various participants’ perspectives on food insecurity on campus from students’ perspective.

Descriptive statistics were done for main components of demographics, level of food insecurity, frequency, and correlations between mental health and food insecurity. Significant data were found between depression and the amount of times students were food insecure over the semester. Qualitative interviews also were examined for multiple themes.

While there are limitations present within the study, specifically the self evaluation and small sample size, implications for HSU were provided. The main recommendations for the study are using the responses as a guide to the possible creation of a student led food pantry, how to address specific target area needs for students that may have gone under the radar, and the size of the food insecure vulnerable population. HSU can decide further action to better address their student population needs, and university goals.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Included in

Social Work Commons



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