Basic Needs Insecurity
What is Basic Needs Insecurity?
Basic needs insecurity can be defined as a lack of consistent access to food, shelter, clothing, utilities, childcare, and security (both financial and physical). In today’s society, many would also argue that lack of access to technology and stable Wi-Fi fall into this category as well.
Food security is defined as a measure of access to a sufficient quantity and variety of quality and desirable food options to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Individuals that are food insecure are those at the end of the spectrum where there may be a lack of access to sufficient quality and quantity of foods to meet their specific needs to live a healthy and active lifestyle (Broton and Goldrick-Rab, 2018).
It is typically at this end of the spectrum that food pantries, such as the Buckeye Food Alliance, aim to serve to alleviate many of the negative impacts that come from experiencing food insecurity. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), very low food security is a state where individuals report multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns such as missing meals (2019).
Who is impacted by Basic Needs Insecurity?
Students attending colleges and universities are not immune from experiencing food or basic needs insecurity. In fact, a 2019 report from the Hope Center estimated that 42% of students at 4-year institutions and 47% of students at two-year institutions are impacted by food insecurity.
Risk factors for basic needs insecurity include (Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2019):
- Student that are employed
- Students that have been in school longer
- Students that are part-time as opposed to full-time
- Students that are divorced
- Students that have children
- Students that are financially independent from their parents
How does Basic Needs Insecurity impact college students?
There is no lack of research that demonstrates the negative impacts basic needs insecurity can have on college students. Experiencing basic needs insecurity can lead to a myriad barriers for college students, including, but not limited to, being distracted in class, poor mental health, dropping a class or discontinuing one’s education entirely, and lower grades. Some studies have shown that student GPA and university retention may be improved in universities takes steps to address food insecurity on their campus (Woerden, Hruschka, and Bruening, 2018).