Publication Date

Fall 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Natalie Boero


college students, first-generation, food insecurity, Food Pantry, privatization, public university

Subject Areas

Sociology; Higher education


The purpose of this research was twofold: to learn more about how students at San Jose State University experience food insecurity and to learn how food insecurity is addressed by this public university given the rise and prevalence of neoliberalism in higher education. Three focus groups were conducted gauging how 16 students defined food insecurity and what their experiences with food insecurity at college were like. A total of eight individual interviews took place after the focus groups, delving further into how it feels to experience food insecurity at SJSU and the students’ recommendations for improvement. The overwhelming majority of students experienced stress due to not knowing when their next meal would be. Students also expressed tremendous guilt and shame because of their inability to afford food. The ongoing struggle to fully address and fulfill the needs of students is influenced by neoliberal policies, which promote short-term profit as a primary goal.