Food insecurity is an emerging issue for college students. A nutrition course with an integrated teaching kitchen was developed to address this issue at a large public university. We aimed to determine changes in food insecurity and stress among students who took the course. The course consisted of weekly lectures followed by teaching kitchen lab sessions to teach basic nutrition and culinary concepts and expose students to hands-on skill development cooking experiences. Using a pre-post design, enrolled students completed an anonymous online survey at the beginning and the end of the semester. Food security was assessed with the USDA Six-Item Food Security Module; stress was measured using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Pre- and post-data were linked for 171 participants. Paired data statistical analysis comparing the post- vs. the pre-test showed an increase in food security and a decrease in very low security rates (from 48% to 70%, and from 23% to 6%, respectively; p < 0.0001), and a decrease on the average PSS score, indicating lower stress (from (Mean ± SD) 19.7 ± 5.9 to 18.1 ± 6.0; p = 0.0001). A nutrition and culinary course may be an effective response to food insecurity and could potentially improve students' wellbeing.
Keywords: college students; culinary education; food security; nutrition education; stress; young adults.