When it comes to student hunger, a lack of data is a problem. “We wish we had better date,” said Katharine Broto, a researcher in sociology. “We first started collecting data on student hunger seven years ago. But it is hard to tell if it is gotten better or worse because we are always looking at different populations and different schools.”
A study released recently looked at both community and four-year colleges, but it used the convenience sample, colleges were chosen based on whether they had volunteers willing to ask students to fill out surveys. Since the study is based on a convenience sample, it could not have been generalized to the public.
These findings helped provide a realization of the 1,800 food-insecure students. Some findings from this study were that 15 percent of food-insecure students had experienced some sort of homelessness in the past year; 32 percent believed that their hunger or housing problem had a negative impact on their education, and 56 percent of food-insecure students reported having a paying job.
The causes of student hunger become even more complicated when considering community colleges, where a significant number of students are not dependent on parents and do not live in student housing and are typically enrolled part time.
Currently the Association of Community College Trustees are working on creating measures on food and housing security in 75 community colleges, in an effort to collect better data in an area where current numbers are lacking.