UA food survey results released for the 2023-24 year

The UA Food Security Committee releases its report on food security on campus on April 23.

The Undergraduate Association (UA) Food Security Committee released its report on food security for the 2023-2024 school year on April 23. The UA Food Security committee was established in Fall 2023 as an ad-hoc committee created to address growing food insecurity concerns for undergraduates.

The committee released a voluntary survey regarding food security earlier during the semester and drew its report from the 496 students who responded. One key finding was that even though 51 percent of students were enrolled in meal plans, it didn't automatically translate to higher food security compared to students without meal plans. The average meal plan cost-per-meal is $16.87, over twenty percent more costly than the meal cost determined by the committee to be “around $14.” 

Furthermore, the committee stated that “[s]students who experience food insecurity are more likely to need additional financial resources compared to their counterparts.” The report noted the two primary causes of food insecurity are a lack of time and a lack of money, with 41 percent and 51 percent of respondents indicating these reasons, respectively.

Additionally, the committee found that students primarily use meal plan swipes at the Maseeh Dining Hall and New Vassar Hall during lunch time, two of the residence halls closest to the main campus. Due to distance and time constraints, students who have classes at locations like the Sloan School of Management feel compelled to eat at non-MIT restaurants. Some students also report “[forgetting] to pack lunch and eat bananas that day,” referring to the Banana Lounge.

In response to the findings of the report, the UA Food Security Committee recommended that the UA partners with student organizations such as DormCon, the Division of Student Life, and the ARM Coalition to “offer a bulk delivery service through the new grocer, Concord Market, which would be run, managed, and operated by dorms.” The Concord Market is expected to open in Fall 2024, replacing LaVerde’s. The proposed service would deliver food to students on a weekly basis and would accept TechCash as the form of payment.

Additionally, the UA Food Security Committee suggested that MIT extends TechCash use to all food locations on and near campus, as “this would homogenize geographic access to food on campus and solve the recurrent issue of not having affordable food options on the East side of campus.” The committee hoped that implementing a “preestablished swipe-per-dollar exchange rate” would help with regards to the already expensive meal plans that are purchased on set quantities of swipes.