Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nutrition Science


Health Science and Human Ecology

First Reader/Committee Chair

Chen-Maynard, Dorothy


Food insecurity is one of the major public health issues world-wide including the United States. A significant proportion of students within the California State University (CSU) system, approximately 41.6%, experience food insecurity. The purposes of this study was 1) to determine the factors and barriers that affect the use of campus food pantries by university students on seven CSU campuses, 2) to determine the improvements that can be implemented in the on-campus food pantries, 3) to evaluate the effectiveness of the management of food pantries, and 4) to evaluate the effectiveness and utilization of nutrition education services provided in conjunction with food pantry services.

The study aims were evaluated using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. Seven CSU campuses were selected for their diverse demographics and varied campus sizes, ranging from large to mid-sized institutions, providing a comprehensive representation for the study. The survey distribution involves reaching out to department professors and management officials across CSU campuses. The collected quantitative data was entered into SPSS Version (190) and subjected to rigorous statistical analysis using SPSS, encompassing descriptive statistics and correlation analysis.

There were 135 valid surveys that we used for data analysis. Of the 135 participants, 110 (81.5%) had knowledge about the presence of the food pantry in their campus. Of the students who are aware of campus food pantry (n=110), 71 (64.6%) were using the campus food pantry either to supplement their regular or as a sole source of food. The 75.0% of those who use the food pantry as a sole food source reported that the food pantry does not meet their nutritional needs, while 60.9% of those who use the food pantry as a supplemental food source said that the food pantry meets their nutritional needs. Of those using the food pantry as a sole or supplemental food source, a large majority indicated that campus food pantry needs improvement. Lack of time to participate, feeling like not deserving or needing, and inconvenient hours of operation were leading barriers that participants believe. Students that believe the presence of barriers on campus pantry use, were less likely to use campus food pantry (p

Further studies are needed to be conducted on a larger population to comprehensively understand the factors impacting the utilization of food pantries and identify areas for improvement to offer more satisfactory services to students. Additionally, further research is necessary to better understand the management of food pantries, including aspects such as food donations and collaborations, which are crucial for enhancing the effectiveness of these resources in addressing food insecurity among college students.