Struggling with the basics: food and housing insecurity among college students across twenty-two colleges and universities

Melissa D. Olfert, Rebecca L. Hagedorn-Hatfield, Bailey Houghtaling, Monica K. Esquivel, Lanae B. Hood, Lillian MacNell, Jessica Soldavini, Maureen Berner, Mateja R. Savoie Roskos, Melanie D. Hingle, Georgianna R. Mann, Julia F. Waity, Linda L. Knol, Jennifer Walsh, Valerie Kern-Lyons, Christopher Paul, Keith Pearson, Jeannine R. Goetz, Marsha Spence, Elizabeth Anderson-SteevesElizabeth D. Wall-Bassett, J. Porter Lillis, E. Brooke Kelly, Adam Hege, Mary Catherine Fontenot, Patricia Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives: To quantify the number and type of students failing to secure basic needs. Participants: Students attending 22 postsecondary schools in the United States in Fall 2019. Methods: The Adult Food Security Module and part of the #RealCollege Survey were used to measure food and housing insecurity, respectively. Logistic and linear regression models were used to assess the relationship between selected factors and basic needs insecurities. Results: Participants (n = 22,153) were classified as 44.1% and 52.3% food insecure and housing insecure, respectively. Homeless students or those who experienced childhood food insecurity were at the greatest odds of college food insecurity. Year in school was the largest contributor to being housing insecure, with PhD or EdD students being 1,157% more likely to experience housing insecurity compared to freshmen. Conclusions: High prevalence of basic needs insecurities remain. Current campus initiatives may be insufficient, calling for a more holistic approach at the campus, state, and national levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of American College Health
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Basic needs
  • college
  • food insecurity
  • housing insecurity
  • student
  • university

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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