College campus food pantry program evaluation: What barriers do students face to access on-campus food pantries?
The purpose of this study was to explore barriers Texas Woman’s University (TWU) students face in accessing on-campus food pantries. This cross-sectional, survey-based study was conducted in Fall 2021. Students’ use of the food pantries and barriers to utilization, including qualitative questions, were evaluated using descriptive statistics and thematic analyses. Students (n = 529) completed the survey. Despite a high prevalence of food insecurity (49.2%), most students reported never using the pantries (89.8%). Almost half of the students were unaware that these pantries existed on campus (47.8%). More than one in four students believed there were barriers to accessing the pantries, with time tissues, lack of transportation, limited food pantry hours of operation, and social stigma most commonly cited as major barriers to access. Food insecurity remains an urgent problem at TWU since the prevalence has remained high since 2019 despite the institutions’ efforts to reduce it. One of those resources has not been utilized as expected, which might impede improvements in food security among students. TWU on-campus food pantries can use these findings to address major barriers by offering after-hours access through the libraries or campus police, partnering with public transportation, and normalizing accessing food assistance.