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Food Insecurity Among Students Continues During Pandemic

Nearly one-third of students said they have experienced food insecurity since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey report from Chegg.org, the research and advocacy arm of the course materials and services company Chegg. About the same number of students also said hunger has “impacted their ability to study,” and more than half of students have accessed an off-campus food bank at least once, the survey found.

The report, part of a Chegg.org survey series on how students are faring during the pandemic, is fairly consistent with other research highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on students’ basic needs, but it focuses specifically on food insecurity. The organization and partners Swipe Out Hunger and the Born This Way Foundation surveyed 1,000 undergraduate students between Oct. 28 and Nov. 6 and concluded that the economic crisis caused by the pandemic and resulting job loss among students has partly led to their inability to pay for food.

Thirty-two percent of students surveyed reported they had been laid off due to the pandemic, and 40 percent of those who skipped meals said they did so to pay for debt or study materials, the report said.

“It is absolutely disheartening to know that the most vulnerable populations in the United States are not being fully supported of their basic needs during this pandemic,” Heather Hatlo Porter, Chegg’s chief communications officer, said in a press release.

Male students were more likely to say they had access to food — both on and off campus from food banks — than female students, the report said. Twenty-two percent of male students said they had “better access” to food while on campus than at home, compared to only 16 percent of female students who said the same. College men (35 percent) were also more likely to go to an off-campus food bank each month than women (26 percent), the report said.

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