Student survey will gauge COVID-19 food security effects

Canned food on shelves

A University of Oregon doctoral student is launching a survey to find out how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting food security and access to food among UO students.

Prevention science researcher Anna Cahn’s survey also will ask students how COVID-19 has affected their eating behaviors. The survey is open through Dec. 15 and takes approximately 10-15 minutes to complete.

“If COVID-19 has negatively affected UO students’ food security,” Cahn said, “we and the UO administration need to know.”

The onset of COVID-19 in March left more than 14 million Americans without jobs and without incomes. Studies have shown that unemployment is directly associated with a higher risk of food insecurity.

A 2017 study showed that 52 percent of UO students were food insecure, and the spike in unemployment following COVID-19 likely resulted in an increase in food insecure UO students.

“Data collected from this survey should facilitate evidence-informed decision-making by university administrators regarding whether UO students need increased food access and support for healthy eating,” Cahn said. “One example could be increasing support for existing food access programs such as the Student Food Pantry, Ducks Feeding Ducks and the Produce Drop.”

Cahn and her faculty advisor, Elizabeth Budd, will share the survey results with the UO food studies program, the Food Security Task Force and UO administration in early 2021.

Responses to the survey will be anonymous, and students who complete at least 80 percent of the survey will be entered to win one of 65 $20 Safeway gift cards. Any UO student age 18 and older can take the survey here online.

—By Meghan Mortensen, College of Education