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Over 10 percent of US households were food insecure in 2019. COVID-19 aggravated food insecurity in the US, both by making it worse for already-food insecure households and pushing additional households into food insecurity. College students represent a demographic with unique food security challenges. For this group, food insecurity is often linked to changes in academic performance and mental health. The overall objective of this study is to analyze food insecurity among households with college students during the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, this study will (1) characterize food insecurity among households with college students and (2) examine the impact of food security on the mental health of college students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Analyses were conducted using the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, covering a period from August 2020 to March 2021. Linear regressions were estimated to determine the factors associated with food insecurity among college students as well as food insecurity’s association with four mental health indicators. Results reveal a relationship between food security and mental health, with worse mental health linked to lower levels of food security and vice versa. Results also consistently indicate that gender, ethnicity, race, marital status, educational attainment, and income are associated with the food security and mental health of college students. These findings can provide insight needed to identify appropriate food and health policy approaches to alleviate the food security and mental health struggles of college students.




South Dakota State University


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