Over 3,000 UC Santa Barbara students visited the Associated Students Food Bank in the 2017-2018 school year, making up approximately 13 percent of the student body, according to the A.S. Food Bank’s annual report.

The Food Bank recently expanded its service hours for students last October, adding Friday to their regular Monday, Wednesday and Thursday schedule.

Food Bank use has “been increasing steadily” for about 18 months, according to Rodolfo Herrera, A.S. Food Bank’s Food Bank coordinator.

“We used to see 400 students a day, and now we’re seeing about 600,” Herrera said.

However, a 2016 study conducted on UC students by the UC Global Food initiative suggests that more UCSB students have food insecurity than are using the food bank.

Approximately 19 percent of University of California students suffered from very low food security, and about 23 percent suffered from low food security, according to the study.

Data courtesy of UC Global Food Initiative. Hayley Tice / Daily Nexus

According to a separate 2017 study from the Global Food Initiative, food insecurity was more prevalent among underrepresented minority students. Approximately 62 percent of African-American and 57 percent of Hispanic students reported experiencing food insecurity, while 35 percent of white students and 41 percent of Asian-American students reported it.

Data courtesy of UC Global Food Initiative. Hayley Tice / Daily Nexus

LGBTQ students and first-generation students also reported higher rates of food insecurity than non-LGBTQ and non-first-generation students.

Students experiencing food insecurity were 11 percent more likely to purchase food from fast food restaurants, according to the 2016 study. Food insecurity also can negatively impact diet quality through inadequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, leading to potential health issues.

These students also reported lower GPA averages (3.1) compared to students who are confident in their food security (3.4). Food insecure students were also seven percent more likely to suspend studies due to financial hardship.

Over half of food-insecure UC students were new to food insecurity, according to the study.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines several levels of food security. Individuals with high food security do not have food-access limitations or problems. Food security includes those experiencing both high and marginal food security.

People with marginal food security have issues accessing adequate food, but the quality, variety and quantity of their food intake is not considerably reduced, according to the USDA.

Low food security symptoms, however, include reduced quality, variety and desirability of diets without significant changes in quantity.

Very low security qualifies as disrupted eating patterns and lowered food intake due to a lack of money and resources.

UC students also reported higher rates of food insecurity than United States residents as a whole.

Undergraduates were more likely to have low or very low food security than graduate students. Approximately 48 percent of undergraduates had low or very low food security compared to 25 percent of graduate students.

Approximately 12 percent of U.S.households were food insecure in 2017, according to a USDA survey. Less than five percent of U.S. residents had very low food security that year.

Other universities had significant rates of food insecurity among students as well. A 2016 survey at West Virginia University found that approximately 30 percent of students at the university were food insecure.

At a mid-sized rural university in Oregon, 59 percent of students were food insecure at some point between May 2010 and 2011, according to a 2014 study.

Students, however, are not the only people on campus affected by food insecurity. A 2016 study from Occidental College found that 45 percent of clerical, administrative and support staff across the University of California suffer from very low food security and an additional 25 percent have low food security.

U.S. Household data from 2016, and California resident data from a 2013-15 average. Data courtesy of Occidental College. Hayley Tice / Daily Nexus