Studying hard while hungry and broke: Striving for academic well-being while navigating food insecurity

Kristin Osiecki, Jessie A Barnett, Angie P Mejia Medina, Tessie Burley, Kara Nyhus, Kaitlyn Pickens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Food insecurity on college campuses disproportionately impacts underrepresented students and can contribute to detrimental outcomes. Furthermore, new research with a broader scope includes universitywide populations such as faculty and staff who may also face food insecurity. The reasons behind higher-education food insecurity are complex and based in historic academic structures that create gender and race disparities. Focusing on increasing the numbers of women and minorities entering the graduate school pipeline has resulted in a more equitable distribution of master and doctoral level degrees. However, lower wages, higher workloads, and perceptions of inferior academic performance continue in the current day. These factors contribute to only 26% of women achieving full professorship and only one-third receiving external federal research funding. This reflection provides autoethnographical accounts of three female faculty members who experienced hunger during their undergraduate and graduate careers, and intermittently struggle with purchasing nutritious foods as working professionals. They also discuss their interactions with and observations of their students who also face challenges in securing meals on a regular basis. Three undergraduate female students who are actively involved in campus food projects share their insights from a personal and peer perspective. Grassroot initiatives including an onsite food pantry, a village garden, external funding, and ongoing research attempt to fill gaps. In addition to short-term fixes, it is important to continue conversations with university administration and community leaders to create policies and programs to address campus food insecurity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-195
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 22 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the Authors.


  • Food Insecurity
  • Grassroot Projects
  • Higher Education
  • Underrepresented Faculty
  • Underrepresented Students


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