The University of Connecticut’s Division of Student Affairs and the Office of the Provost created a food insecurity survey to learn the needs of the undergraduate student body, Eleanor Daugherty, associate vice president and dean of students, said.
The survey, which will be available to complete until Nov. 6, is aimed to highlight what food insecurity means for students at all UConn campuses during the academic year, Daugherty said. Questions range from whether a student knows how to make a healthy meal to whether they are worried they will run out of food before they have money to get more.
“We don’t know the extent of the problem on campus and how we can best work to resolve it. We don’t know the causes of the problem as well,” Daugherty said. “[One] factor is that we know we have a student body that is experiencing a lot of stress, not sleeping well and not eating well. That is something we want to understand as well. When students are not eating or nourishing themselves as they should, [we want to know] what are the causes for that.”
The United States Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food,” according to its website. Daugherty said that the survey goes beyond this definition and tries to have questions that students will have an easy time responding to, such as questions about healthy eating habits.
The survey has multiple choice questions and an open-text box, Daugherty said. She said that the open-text box should be able to provide answers that students otherwise might not be able to express.
“I find it helpful in survey methods to leave the box to see what we missed,” Daugherty said. “If we are asking good questions, we are provoking good thoughts and we want to hear those thoughts.”
The survey can be found in a variety of ways, Maureen Armstrong, associate dean of students, said. In addition to the links in the two emails the dean of students sent out, the survey can be found in the announcements block in HuskyCT, the Daily Digest and fliers around campus with a QR code.
After students respond to the survey, the data will be analyzed to see what the university can prioritize in the future to help students, such as possibly expanding UConn Swipes, the initiative that allows students to donate flex passes to other students in need, Daugherty said.
The dean of students is aiming for approximately 40% of the undergraduate student population to answer the survey, Daugherty said. A high response rate will better help the university understand the extent of food insecurity at all of its campuses.
“The survey is written for everyone, and there isn’t a student who should or shouldn’t take the survey or shouldn’t feel as though that they should or shouldn’t take it,” Daugherty said. “We need to understand the complexity of food insecurity and student wellbeing on campus and we wouldn’t be able to do that if we don’t have a high participant rate.”
Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.