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Penn State Launches Food & Housing Security Survey

Penn State will sample the student body this month in an effort to learn more about housing and food insecurity on campus, the university announced Tuesday.

Starting Thursday, November 18, a randomly selected sample of students will receive a five-to-10-minute survey in their inboxes. Although the questionnaires are not anonymous, Penn State said responses will remain confidential among “a small number of Student Affairs staff” who could provide resources and support to those showing immediate need.

Additionally, anyone who participates in the study will have a chance to win one of 10 awards of $25 in LionCash through random drawings.

“I encourage students, regardless of whether you personally experience food or housing insecurity, to participate in the survey. Collective input will help Penn State gauge the prevalence of this challenge and organize resources,” said Penn State President Eric Barron.

The survey aims to help Penn State learn more about on-campus needs for housing and food security and eventually guide future outreach efforts. The study’s questions will touch on skipping or “stretching” meals, access to nutritious food, uncertainty surrounding meals or housing, and homelessness, among other topics.

“The survey should inform us about the ways financial insecurity affects our students’ daily lives, even as it illuminates disparate impacts this issue may have on various populations of students,” said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs. “Without this data, we would not be able to address the problem as effectively as we must. But with the participation of all students receiving the survey, we’ll be armed with the insight necessary to do this important work well.”

Penn State said it will share “broad results” and recommendations from the survey next spring. However, the university could implement policy changes and real-time adjustments immediately.

A report issued in March 2021 by Penn State’s Food and Housing Security Task Force found that more than a third of Penn State students across the state experienced some level of food insecurity. The group also found that women, LGBTQ+ individuals, first-generation students, and underrepresented students were more likely to report incidences of food insecurity.

Through November 21, Penn State students can donate $5, $10, or $15 in extra meal points to Penn State’s Student Emergency Fund through the university’s latest “Swipe Out Hunger” campaign. Last spring’s fundraiser brought in more than $29,000 for students in need.

Any student experiencing food or housing insecurity is encouraged to contact Student Care and Advocacy or read up on already-existing resources. You can submit anonymous tips to support peers in need, too.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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