Impact of Free, Locally Sourced Lunch Program on Food Insecurity and Stress Reduction Among College Students

Jordan Hinton, Kendra OoNorasak, Dr. Tammy Stephenson, Department of Dietetics and and Human Nutrition, University of Kentucky, 410 Administration Drive Lexington, KY 40506

College students face a disproportionate risk of food insecurity (FI) due to limited resources related to finances, time, knowledge and skills. FI is defined as a lack of consistent access to safe and nutritionally adequate food to live a healthy and active lifestyle essential to higher academic success. A pilot research study on the prevalence and context of college FI conducted at the University of Kentucky found that 43% of 1,854 students experienced some level of food insecurity with challenges in accessing affordable and healthful foods including fresh fruits and vegetables. Farm to Fork (F2F), a student-led weekly free meal program for fellow students, was developed and implemented in Fall 2018 as part of the Campus Kitchen at the University of Kentucky in response to those preliminary findings. F2F provides meals to approximately 120 students each week using locally recovered ingredients. Free, nutritionally balanced meals are served to students with both dine-in and to-go options in a community setting and educational materials including recipes, nutrition handouts, and interactive activities, are used to engage students who choose to dine-in. An online survey conducted with 261 F2F attendees between September 2018 and May 2019 found that those who dined in reported significant improvements in realms of food access, academics, social life, and meal planning. Compared to students that took meals to-go, those that dined in reported increased access to nutrient rich foods (p=0.001), motivation to utilize local food (p=0.001), a greater sense of belonging on campus (p=0.035) and heightened ability to concentrate on academics (p=0.062). Based on these preliminary findings, F2F appears to have a positive impact on relieving student stress and enhancing diet quality. This program displays potential to be replicated at other institutions as a mechanism to reduce food waste and improve food insecurity and wellbeing among college students.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Jordan Hinton

Institution: University of Kentucky

Type: Poster

Subject: Exercise Science & Nutrition

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 7
Date/Time: Tue 3:30pm-4:30pm
Session Number: 5032