Food Access and Dignity Among University of Wyoming Students
thesisposted on 2018-12-16, 00:00 authored by Alanna Elder
Because Albany County is the home of the state's only four-year university, there is a question as to how the student population affects the proportion of county residents considered food insecure. Until now, it has been unclear how many students are struggling to access food. In 2017, a group of University of Wyoming faculty and administrators from the Department of Agricultural Economics, Financial Services, and the Office of Academic Affairs signed up for The Ohio State University's College Study on Financial Wellness, which included a food security module (Alexander). Surveying 722 undergraduates and using USDA metrics, the researchers discovered that 18.7% of respondents expressed low food security, and another 18.7% expressed very low food security (McDaniel et al). These statistics are on par with the average of all of the four year public institutions that participated in the survey, but this does not mean they are inconsequential. At a school with nearly 10,000 undergraduates and an additional 2,000 graduate students (none of whom were surveyed), the data suggests that thousands of students may be struggling to nourish themselves (UW Quick Facts). This project is an effort to better understand the experiences of UW students, the existing institutions that are relevant to food access, and the opportunities for better supporting students who are struggling to acquire nutritious food. Local experts assert that any response to food insecurity is more effective and more just if users are involved in its design (Dunning, Porter). Campus culture is another consideration which may stigmatize the use of services that provide food to students at no cost (Alexander). Additionally, the success of campus projects generally depends not only on student interest, but also on some degree of administrative and financial backing from the institution. The project's outcomes include three parts aimed at motivating institutional support and student action, while reducing stigma surrounding the use of services.