SDG 2 Zero Hunger: An Important Sustainability Target for Universities

Before we can achieve zero hunger at university, we need to understand the scale of the issue and to understand student’s experiences of food insecurity (defined by Department of Health, as the inability to afford or have access to food to make up a healthy diet). Dr Claire Blennerhassett (senior lecturer in the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Medicine at EHU), along with partners at Liverpool John Moores University is currently recruiting students to take part in a mixed method research study across the UK.

Context of Food Insecurity for Students

University students are typically reliant on term-time employment to bridge the gap between loans and maintenance grants, and living costs, which is estimated to be approximately £233 per month (Brown, 2020), however many students were laid off or lost shifts due to COVID-19 (Owens, et al, 2020). The impact of this has been highlighted in recent news reports, with many unable to pay rent or eat their usual foods (The Guardian, 2021c). According to a survey conducted with university students (UK and USA) in April 2020, 35% of university students had low or very low levels of food security (Defeyter, et al 2020). Furthermore, 41% of students were worried that their food would run out. Unsurprisingly, students most effected by food insecurity were those living alone, with 32.3% very low food security, compared to 11.7% of those living with parents or 11.3% living with a spouse or partner (Defeyter, et al 2020). Since then, the UK has had further periods of lockdown, with a period of 3 months since Christmas increasing the financial strain on students. While some students may have returned home due to unmanageable living costs, there has been a marked increase in families in poverty (Whitehead, 2021), therefore students returning home may not be protected from food insecurity.

Recruitment Details:

An online survey, open to all university students in the UK:

University students may be more at risk of hunger due to shortfalls between costs of living and loans and grants. Therefore, we are interested in Student’s experiences of the challenges of funding their studies and feeding themselves while at university. #UKstudent #ukstudents #students #student #uni #university.

We invite all university students to complete our online survey:

Interviews (online or face to face) open to university student in the UK that has experienced hunger due to a lack of money:

Are you a University student that has found it difficult to purchase enough food due to lack of money? We are conducting research with UK Students to explore the difficulties they have experienced with feeding themselves while at university. #UKstudent #ukstudents #ukuniversities.

If you are interested in taking part in this research project, please register your interest here: