BYU-Idaho freshman Chelsea Castañeda said she wants to live healthier at BYU-Idaho, but her budget won’t allow it.
She has to eat inexpensive foods that are less healthy than she wants.
“It doesn’t help me when I’m trying to lose weight,” she said. “Since I’ve moved here and lived the ‘college life,’ I’ve just been buying whatever is cheap and [what] I feel like will last me the week. But it’s not benefiting my body.”
Her experience represents a large selection of BYU-Idaho students. She wants to eat healthier but can’t. A recent survey of campus shows that 52 percent said they had enough to eat, but they lacked the money to eat the food they wished to eat.
The study by the Communication 440 class suggested that nearly two in three students at BYU-I have some level of concern over food. Either they have lost weight because of a lack of food, skipped meals or worried about having enough money for food, or not eaten enough of the food they would like to eat sometime over the last year on this campus.
This compares national statistics that suggest only about 11 percent of Americans suffer with some degree of food insecurity.
Only one in three students reported having what the government describes as high food security.
The survey of BYU-I students conducted in early February had just more than 200 responses — a 13 percent response rate of the 1500 students reached. On the food insecurity measure, there was a .4 margin of error. A 6 percent margin of error existed on some simple yes/no variables at the 95 percent confidence level.
The metric of food insecurity, adopted from the United States Department of Agriculture and its questionnaire, comes from a tally of responses to a variety of questions about food consumption habits, such as, “In the last 12 months while here at school, did you ever eat less than you felt you should because there wasn’t enough money for food?”
Nationally, about 7 percent of households report low food security and 4 percent report very low food security. A recent study by the Government Accountability Office suggested that food insecurity is a large problem on college campuses.
An animal and food science professor at BYU-I, Amanda Christensen, said in response to the found data, “I find this topic very interesting. Some universities have food pantries, but since we have the Church resources, we don’t have one. I think being aware of resources and know when to reach out is really important.”
BYU-I does not, in fact, have a food pantry on campus. However, since many of the students in attendance are members in the Church, there are other options, like the bishop’s storehouse.
Thirty-six percent of the respondents did not believe that struggling students would seek food assistance in times of need. Yet, the majority are informed of these resources.
Among other findings:
• Just over 52 percent said they had “enough [food] but not always the kinds of food we want.” Another 40 percent said “enough of the kinds of food we want to eat,” while 13 percent said “sometimes not enough to eat,” and 1 percent said “often not enough to eat.”
· Forty-five percent of married students said they had enough but not always the kind of food they wanted and 52 percent said they had enough of the foods they wanted to eat. Among single students, 56 percent had enough but not of the foods they wanted and 33 percent said they had enough of the kinds of food they wanted to eat.
· Thirty percent admitted to cutting down their meals for the sake of others in their homes, while approximately 13 percent said that they did so almost every month.
· Nine percent stated that their food just did not last and they could not afford to buy more.
· Sixty-two percent worried about eating a more healthy diet on their budget, while 18 percent could not afford to eat balanced meals whatsoever.
• Twenty-one percent of students said in the last 12 months at school they have been hungry some time because they lacked money for food.
• One out of seven, 14 percent, of students claim to have lost weight because they lacked the money for food.
· Seventy-five percent claimed to know of the resources that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides.
Madison County has numerous resources available to those with insufficient food.