Christopher Lee

Christopher Lee

Perceptions of SNAP on a College Campus and Obstacles to Applying


Christopher Lee, Anne Mathews, James Colee, Karla Shelnutt


PhD RDN, Anne Mathews


College of Agricultural and Life Sciences


Across the nation, many college students are affected by food insecurity. Previous research has shown food insecurity to negatively affect academic performance and various health markers like weight status. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) exists to combat this issue; however, many students with food insecurity do not apply for these benefits. The goal of this project was to examine how various factors may affect students’ willingness to apply for SNAP. University of Florida students (n = 3,206; 30.2% graduate; 69.8% undergraduate) completed a survey during the Spring 2020 semester. Questions asked about students’ sociodemographic characteristics, food security status (using the USDA Adult Food Security Module), self-perception of one’s social status, and perceptions and knowledge of SNAP. Results showed that 24.9% of students were experiencing food insecurity. Over 20% of students with food insecurity responded that they would not apply to SNAP if eligible. Many students (44.9%) said they would not feel comfortable with their friends knowing they used SNAP and only 14.4% of students with food insecurity said they were informed about SNAP eligibility requirements. Further analysis through Structure equation modeling (SEM) showed that higher perceived social status, fear of friends knowing, and lack of knowledge negatively correlated with the likelihood that students would apply to SNAP if eligible. Interestingly, food security status did not directly correlate with the likelihood of applying for SNAP if eligible. Future research can examine how to diminish these barriers, so more students apply for SNAP, mitigating the negative impact of food insecurity.


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Research Pitch

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