Key words: Food security, food insecurity, factors and university students.
The dynamics of a shrinking economy in Kenya, reduced government capitation to universities, the rising cost of tuition and other systemic changes have exposed university students to hardships including food insecurity. These rising costs coupled with the clamour for access and acquisition of higher education in the face of limited financial capabilities have had far-reaching implications for university students on their campus life in terms of their emotional, social, economic, physical and academic well-being. The average college life for a university student is rapidly changing, whether living on or off campus. There is need to device strategies for mitigating the situation. Based on selected tenets of theory of change, this study investigated the prevalence of food insecurity among students in Moi University and University of Eldoret, and the effects on their academic performance with a view to proposing models for effective improvement. A survey design was employed. The target population comprised of students, deans of students, students’ counsellors and students’ leaders. The deans of students, students’ counsellors and students’ leaders were purposively selected. Random sampling was used to select 4,400 students constituting 10% of the total population of students in the two universities. Questionnaires and interviews were used to collect data. The data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. It was found that there was prevalence of food insecurity among university students. The food insecurity situation was as a result of financial insecurity brought about by poor family backgrounds and inadequate Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) disbursements. It was concluded that the food insecurity scenario negatively affected the retention and academic performance of university students. It was recommended that universities should expand and enhance the work-study programmes, provide subsidized catering services, institutionalize student support services, engage charitable organizations to support students, seek part-time employment opportunities for needy students and continuous provision of financial counselling services to students.