Journal of Food Security
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Journal of Food Security. 2018, 6(1), 20-25
DOI: 10.12691/jfs-6-1-2
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Food Insecurity and Coping Strategies amongst Students at University of Witwatersrand

Michael Rudolph1, Florian Kroll1, Evans Muchesa1, Anri Manderson1, Moira Berry1 and Nicolette Richard1,

1Wits Siyakhana Initiative, Republic of South Africa, 2001

Pub. Date: February 26, 2018

Cite this paper:
Michael Rudolph, Florian Kroll, Evans Muchesa, Anri Manderson, Moira Berry and Nicolette Richard. Food Insecurity and Coping Strategies amongst Students at University of Witwatersrand. Journal of Food Security. 2018; 6(1):20-25. doi: 10.12691/jfs-6-1-2


This study described food security status and explored coping mechanisms of students at times of food insecurity at the University of the Witwatersrand. The sample consisted of 387 undergraduate students from all faculties and a subsample of 30 students who received financial aid. The 30 subsample students were also assessed regarding their coping strategies. Action research approaches included key indicators such as the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS), and the Dietary Diversity Score (DDS). The HFIAS score showed that 1% of students was severely food insecure and 6% were identified as moderately food insecure. The DDS score amongst the sample was seven out of a possible 12 points. African male students originating from townships who were on financial aid and did not eat in university dining halls were the most vulnerable group to food insecurity. Almost all (97%) participants believed hunger could impact negatively on academic performance and 52% reported having personally experienced the impact of hunger on academic performance. Food security coping strategies used by students were avoiding expensive fast-food places; food pooling, shared meal preparation schedules; eating fewer meals and going home to get food. Wits should develop effective strategies to address pockets of hunger and food insecurity.

Action research food security academic performance students coping strategies social status and university

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