“I don’t want to say I’m broke”:
Student experiences of food insecurity at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Keywords:food insecurity; university students; health; poverty; inequities; Canada
Food insecurity, the inadequate or insecure access to food because of financial constraints, is an important public health concern, associated with poor physical and mental health. Recent research among post-secondary students shows that it also has consequences for academic performance; food insecure students are more likely to have lower grades and to drop out. This qualitative study aimed to describe the experiences of Queen’s University students who didn’t have enough money for food or who worried about having enough money for food. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 12 undergraduate, 10 graduate and 5 professional students. Participants included 14 students of colour and 2 Indigenous students. All described chronic food insecurity during their time at Queen’s, including 9 who experienced severe food insecurity, skipping meals and going hungry. Most participants cycled between different levels of food insecurity (severe, moderate, and marginal) depending on the availability of resources, though a few were severely or moderately food insecure on an ongoing basis. None escaped worry and anxiety about being able to properly feed themselves. Our sampling strategy netted a more diverse set of students than previously described in the literature on post-secondary student food insecurity, including first-generation Canadians, international students, Indigenous students, law students and undergraduate students transitioning to independent living. Our results demonstrate the human costs of market approaches to post-secondary education and lend support to the growing campaign in Canada for a basic income that includes young people.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 Elaine Power, Julie Dietrich, Zoe Walter, Susan Belyea
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms: Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-SA 4.0) License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work. (See more on Open Access.)