The most recent Hope survey from fall 2020 reports 38% of students in two-year colleges and 29% of students at four-year colleges experienced food insecurity in the previous 30 days. The issue of food insecurity on college campuses has been referred to as the invisible epidemic.
How are institutions addressing the challenge of food insecurity?
At the recent CCPRO Conference, we presented alongside our partners at San Jose City College (SJCC) about their use of conversational AI and text messaging to support student success.
After combing through more than 22,000 text messages received from enrolled students in the past 12 months, Jaggy (SJCC’s SMS-powered chatbot supported by EdSights) identified key trends impacting student persistence. Most notably, approximately one in four students experienced financial distress in large part due to COVID-19. Additionally, Black/African American students were 10% more likely than their peers to experience challenges with housing or food insecurity.
Taking a proactive approach, Jaggy executed 85 retention campaigns targeting at-risk students to uncover their challenges. Jaggy connected more than 100 students who were specifically challenged with food insecurity to resources like Second Harvest (a free food bank in San Jose) and instructions for how to apply for CARES Emergency Funding.
How are institutions measuring success?
SJCC had the highest student satisfaction amongst EdSights’ partners with 92% of respondents indicating a favorable response to SJCC’s handling of the pandemic. Additionally, positive perceptions of the institution increased by nearly 25% overall. Read more about our COVID-19 perceptions study featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed,
Food Insecurity is only one subdriver impacting student persistence. Next week we'll dive in to how one of our partners leveraged multiple drivers to support at-risk students to boost retention by 14 percentage points.
Every campus has its own unique challenges and communities. We encourage you to gather your own with our research-based methodology to maximize response and engagement.