Do university students who experience food insecurity report psychological distress?
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Introduction: Poor mental health is a substantial problem for university students and universities. Little is understood about the association between food insecurity and psychological distress in this population. Purposes: To determine the association between food insecurity and psychological distress and to explore the lived experiences of students enrolled in the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) and Faculty of Education (FEd) at University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Methods: I measured the association between food insecurity and psychological distress using data from a cross-sectional study. Focus group interviews were conducted with students in the FHS and FEd. Findings: Food insecurity was associated with psychological distress in students from the FHS and FEd. Students identified economic and time constraints as key contributors to food insecurity. Feelings of shame and aloneness were described as consequences of food insecurity. Students discussed the notion of “powering through” when describing responses to cope with food insecurity. Discussion: Food insecurity is associated with psychological distress in university students. My research can inform programs to support the psychological wellness of university students.