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Food-insecure UNM students at risk of failing in school


As the cost of college continues to soar, more students are finding themselves struggling to find stable housing and enough to eat. A 2019 study found of 167,000 students nationwide found 39% had experienced food insecurity in the last 30 days, and the coronavirus pandemic has only made this worse.

A team of researchers at the University of New Mexico found these students are more likely to fail or withdraw from class, or drop out of school entirely. Their findings were recently published in the Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice.

The survey was done by lead author Heather Mechler, UNM Office of Institutional Analytics; Kathryn Coakley, UNM Department of Individual, Family, and Community Education; Marygold Walsh-Dilley, Department of Geography; and co-PI Sarita Cargas, with the Honors College.

The work is part of the Basic Needs Project at UNM, which seeks to improve the basic needs security of college and university students in New Mexico through a combination of data collection, research, and the development of and advocacy for sustainable solutions.

They made sure their sampling for their survey represented all UNM students, including graduate students and those seeking professional degrees, setting it apart from most similar studies.

Megan has been a journalist for 25 years and worked at business weeklies in San Antonio, New Orleans and Albuquerque. She first came to KUNM as a phone volunteer on the pledge drive in 2005. That led to volunteering on Women’s Focus, Weekend Edition and the Global Music Show. She was then hired as Morning Edition host in 2015, then the All Things Considered host in 2018. Megan was hired as News Director in 2021.