Racial Disparities in Food Insecurity and Depression Among College Students During the Pandemic

New data from The Student Experience in the Research University Consortium, an academic and policy research collaboration based at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley, shows racial differences in how college students coped with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers surveyed 31,687 undergraduate students at nine universities and 16,453 graduate and professional students from 10 universities

Students were asked how often they were worried whether their food would run out before they got money to buy more and how often the food that they bought didn’t last, and they didn’t have money to get more. A response of “often true” or “sometimes true” to either statement indicated a positive screen for food insecurity.

The results found that the 22 percent of college students experienced some level of food insecurity in the months after the start of the pandemic. When the data is broken down by race, the study found that 19 percent of White students experienced food insecurity, compared to 37 percent of Black students.

The survey also found that 35 percent of undergraduates and 32 percent of graduate and professional students screened positive for major depressive disorder, while 39 percent of undergraduate and graduate and professional students screened positive for generalized anxiety disorder. Some 31 percent of Whites and 40 percent of Blacks experienced major depressive disorder. About 40 percent of Whites and Blacks were found to have a generalized anxiety disorder.

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