Campuses poses health challenge for underfed students

Everyone who has spent a lunchtime combing campus to try something healthier than burger of the day will know that it can be hard to find fresh, affordable food at many universities.

A new paper from Macquarie University’s Putu Novi Arfirsta Dharmayani and colleagues has found there is a relationship between the price and healthiness of food on campus and issues of food insecurity and low fruit and veg consumption by students.

The study examined the eating habits of 237 students in the last three months of 2022 and found that almost half (46.4%) were uncertain of where their next meals were coming from (food insecure).

As if hungry students on campus were not bad enough, the study also found that just 5.1% ate the recommended intake of vegetables required for healthy humans (although 46.2% ate the recommended dose of fruit).

The price and availability of fruit and veg were strongly associated with incidence of food insecurity – if your broke, you can’t afford to quibble about which food groups might make up your next meal.

The authors argue that, “transforming campus food environments and developing food policies at the university level must be considered to address food and nutrition security in university students.”

The authors write that food pantries are the most common response to on-campus hunger, but the food available in most pantries could not sustain a balanced diet – and therefore current programs may not be well designed to meet student health needs.

This is a must read for COOs and/or CFOs who control hospitality venues and rent out spaces to multiple coffee shops on campus.



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