What's to Eat and Drink on Campus? Public and Planetary Health, Public Higher Education, and the Public Good

Nutrients. 2022 Dec 30;15(1):196. doi: 10.3390/nu15010196.


Public higher education institutions (PHEIs) have a unique and important role in responding to the public and planetary health crisis-they are centers of research on public and planetary health and of learning for young people, and have a public good mission. Yet, PHEI campus food environments are predominantly unhealthy and environmentally unsustainable, and associated with unhealthy food choices and unhealthy students. PHEIs are addressing high levels of student food insecurity (FI) that disproportionately affect the most vulnerable groups. Yet, because student FI is measured as individual access to adequate quantities of food, campus responses to FI often overlook unhealthy food environments. These environments result from neoliberal PHEI business policies that prioritize short-term revenue and encourage superfluous consumption, and unhealthy, environmentally harmful diets. PHEIs need to move beyond neoliberalism to honor their public good mission, including prioritizing health, the environment, and equity, in decisions about food on campus. My goal in this perspective is to encourage inclusive campus discussion about why this change is required to adequately respond to the crisis of student, public, and planetary health, and about how to begin.

Keywords: diet and health; food environments; food justice; food security; neoliberalism; planetary health; public health; public higher education; sufficient consumption; sustainable consumption.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Diet*
  • Food
  • Food Supply
  • Humans
  • Public Health*
  • Schools
  • Universities

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.