bag of groceriesPULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University undergraduate and graduate students are invited to participate in a survey that will help determine the prevalence of food insecurity on campus.

Students have until the end of the semester to complete the 23-question survey, found at https://wsu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0q60QQwadyswgip. It does not ask for personal information or reveal identity.

Struggling to afford food

Either through direct communication with students or word of mouth, it is not uncommon for faculty and staff members to become aware of students struggling to purchase food.

Luci Loera, assistant vice president for WSU’s Office of Access, Equity and Achievement, said it is particularly evident at the beginning of the semester before their financial aid award has been processed, or at the end of the semester when they have used up all their funds.

While some national studies suggest nearly half of all college students go without food at one time or another during the academic year, Ray Acuña-Luna, academic coordinator and retention specialist for the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), said no one knows how prevalent food insecurity is among WSU Pullman students. Some are too self-conscience to inform anyone.

“I’m anticipating this survey will give us a much better idea,” he said. “This information will help us determine what the need out there is and what kinds of resources can better help them,” he said.

Cougs Feeding Cougs

In January, WSU’s Division of Student Affairs launched a program called Cougs Feeding Cougs (http://www.studentaffairs.wsu.edu/cougs-feeding-cougs/). It uses community donations to assist food insecure students. Over 700 students have been helped so far.

About 15 years ago the Student Support Services (SSS) Program established a food pantry in the Lighty building, and another one exists in the Women’s Resource Center. Acuña-Luna noticed usage of the SSS pantry has increased from about 20 students a month in past years, to 50 students per month this year.

The trend helped prompt the creation of a WSU task force to further research food insecurity on campus. Acuña-Luna and fellow task force members developed the survey and will analyze the results, ultimately making recommendations to WSU administration on ways the university can improve its assistance to food insecure students.

Social media utilized

Acuña-Luna said the survey, which was approved by the WSU Institutional Board, is being promoted largely through social media and visits with student groups such as the Associated Students of Washington State University, Graduate and Professional Student Association, Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic, and Residence Hall Association.

For additional information about the survey, contact:

  • Ray Acuña-Luna, Academic Coordinator/Retention Specialist, College Assistance Migrant Program, 509-335-7649, ray.acuna@wsu.edu.
  • Steve Nakata, Director of Marketing & Communications, Administrative Services, 509-335-1774, nakata@wsu.edu.