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Poster presented at the 2023 SWOSU Research and Scholarly Activity fair.

Pictured here is Dr. Anne Pate

Food security is an issue that has been studied at the national level, specifically through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) since 1995. Food insecurity is defined in the 2022 USDA report as a household’s “ability to acquire adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources”. In 2021 the percentage of U.S. households reporting food insecurity was 10.2% representing approximately 13.5 million households, which was a decline from previous highs of 14.9% in 2014 and 12.7% in 2015. (Coleman-Jensen 2022). Oklahoma reported an average of 13.8% of households as food insecure between 2019 and 2021, which was a slight increase from the 13.2% of households reporting food insecurity between 2016 and 2018 (Coleman-Jensen 2022).
Food insecurity among college students may impact their ability to thrive mentally, physically, emotionally, academically, and socially (Jamie et al, 2019). College students have been found to be at increased risk of food insecurity due to the competing demands on their time and money, both of which have been established as risk factors for food insecurity among the general population (Patton-Lopez et al, 2014). Based on previous research conducted at SWOSU, levels of food insecurity among SWOSU students have ranged from a high of 40.5% in 2019 to a low of 29.9% in 2021. There is also evidence that food insecurity has a significant association with poorer mental health outcomes such as anxiety and depression (Pourmotabbed et al, 2020). Regardless of food security status, research has found that college students are facing mental health challenges with reports of 41.8% of students who self-reported depression, anxiety or suicide (ideation, plan, or attempt; Broton et al, 2022).
This study was determined to be exempt from SWOSU IRB-PHS review. The survey consisted of three components: seven demographic questions, ten food security status questions that reflect the USDA U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module, and five mental health and food resource awareness questions. The survey was distributed to the SWOSU student body through the Assessment Center and available 3/23/2023 – 4/5/2023.


SWOSU Research, Research fair, Food security, Mental health, School resources, Nursing, Psychology