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Nutritional Sciences PhD. Fellow Aseel El Zein Awarded Best College Thesis

Hungry to Learn: Prevalence and Correlates of Food Insecurity among College Freshmen Attending Eight Universities in the U.S.

 

Aseel El Zein (left), Advisor: Dr. Anne Mathews (right)

Access to nutritious food is a basic human right, and the privilege to earn a post-secondary degree does not forfeit this right. In order to understand campus food insecurity, an overlooked and undetected problem, 900 freshmen were surveyed across eight universities in the United States. In doing so, the goal was to foster a more expansive understanding of campus food insecurity and its impact on students, while also bringing national attention to this critical issue. Findings from this study indicated that food insecurity is highly prevalent, resulting in a major public health problem. Additionally, food insecurity negatively influenced students’ academics, wellness and physical and mental health behaviors– all factors that have bearing on student retention and graduation rates. Thus, as college enrollment is becoming more diverse, public health professionals should work with universities to systematically screen for food insecurity, while examining the effectiveness of institutional practices that reduce and eliminate food insecurity among college students.

Aseel is currently continuing her PhD studies as a fellow in the Human Nutrition department. She continues to examine the changes in the students’ food security status and its effect on health behaviors and academics over time. Additionally, she is involved in exploring the students’ perspectives on barriers to using food assistance resources, like campus food pantries, which can inform initiatives to increase campus pantry use by food insecure students.

Congratulations Aseel El Zein for being awarded the best Master’s Thesis in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.