Will Eliminating Hunger Boost Academic Performance of African American College Students?

Hunger or “food insecurity” is a major problem for many low-income college students. A 2016 study by the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness found that 22 percent of college students were classified as hungry and 48 percent had experienced food insecurity within the past 30 days. Food insecurity was defined in the survey as “the lack of reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food.” African American college students were significantly more likely to face food insecurity than White college students.

A new study is being conducted by the University of Houston to see if a program that will provide food to students at Houston Community College will result in better academic performance and increase retention rates. Under the program, 2,000 students at the community college will be able to stock up on food at pantries operated by the Houston Food Bank. A mobile food pantry will also visit campus twice a month. A large majority of the participating students are Black or Latino/a. Daphne Hernandez, a professor of health and human performance at the University of Houston, states that “the lack of availability or access to healthy food, is one of the barriers to graduation for these students.”

Researchers will compare the academic performance of students who receive food aid to students who do not. The program is supported by a grants from the William T. Grant Foundation and the Kresge Foundation.

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  1. This is an interesting study and I can appreciate the research shining scholarly light on college students experiencing homelessness and/or food deprivation/insecurity bc this is a REALITY for more students than most realize. Not only does these barriers hinder learning but also impact the mental and physical health of students, which in turn leads to other issues impeding degree attainment. I’m very much interested in the final findings of this study! Great work in progress UofH.

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