Hunger on College Campuses on the Rise

Nearly one-fourth of college students struggle with hunger while in school, a new report finds.

LITTLE ROCK (October 5, 2016) – This week a report shows that hunger is a growing problem on college campuses across the U.S. and in Arkansas.

“Hunger on Campus”  measures the relationship between college students and food insecurity which the report defines as the “lack of reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food.”  The findings show that food insecurity is common among many colleges and universities across the country.

Four campus-based organizations – the College and University Food Bank Alliance, the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, the Student Government Resource Center, and the Student Public Interest Research Groups – surveyed college students on food insecurity between March and May 2016. The study sample includes 3,765 students in 12 states attending eight community colleges and 26 four-year colleges and universities. The sample was assembled using in-person recruitment, and represents about 0.5% of the students attending those 34 institutions.


  • 48 percent of respondents reported food insecurity in the previous 30 days, including 22 percent with very low levels of food security that qualify them as hungry.
  • Food insecurity occurs at both two-year and four-year institutions.  25 percent of community college students qualified as having very low food security, compared to 20 percent at four-year schools.
  • Food insecurity was more prevalent among students of color. Fully 57 percent of Black or African American students reported food insecurity, compared to 40 percent of non-Hispanic white students.
  • More than half of all first-generation students (56 percent) were food insecure, compared to 45 percent of students who had at least one parent who attended college.

The study also looked at what other trade-offs students were forced to make as well as educational impacts when dealing with food insecurity. Some of the key findings included 64 percent of students have difficulty choosing between paying rent or utilities or buying food.  Thirty-two percent believed that hunger or housing problems had an impact on their education.

“Reports like ‘Hunger on Campus’ reinforce the important work we are doing in Arkansas to make sure we are reaching people where they are when they need it,” says Rhonda Sanders, CEO of Arkansas Foodbank. 

Four colleges in the Arkansas Foodbank service area currently operate pantries on their campus and with the help of the King Foundation we are actively working to assist other colleges to open their own pantries.