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Health Literacy Newsletter: Spring 2022


For the Spring 2022 semester, HLWG has decided to focus on the impact of food insecurity on our campus. According to a study chaired by Maryland State Senator Mary Washington in 2021, "nearly 100,000 Maryland college students were fighting food insecurity even before the pandemic added more financial strain." Subsequently, in May 2021 Maryland passed the Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program to address student hunger and basic food needs on campus; requiring the Maryland Higher Education Commission to administer the Program, develop a certain form, and designate certain campuses as hunger-free campuses; authorizing certain public institutions of higher education to develop certain procedures and make certain information publicly available.

Swipe Out Hunger, the leading national organization in ending food insecurity on college campuses, advises colleges and universities on the design of commonsense and innovative anti-hunger programs. It has established similar programs at over 130 campuses and provided over two million nutritious meals across 40 states.

Food Insecurity

Food insecurity is the lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. This can range from lack of quality and variety in one's diet all the way to consistent hunger and decreased food intake. 

Food deserts can often contribute to food insecurity.

  • According to the Baltimore City Health Department, a food desert in Baltimore City fits these criteria:
    • An area where the distance to a supermarket or supermarket alternative is more than ¼ mile
    • The median household income is at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level
    • Over 30% of households have no vehicle available
    • The average Healthy Food Availability Index (HFAI) score for all food stores is low
  • Food deserts are defined differently in various parts of the country--for instance, rural areas define food deserts as areas more than 10 miles from a supermarket.



Food insecurity in Maryland

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future's Maryland Food System Map

  • Use this interactive collection of maps to explore demographic information related to nutrition, food access, and other health indicators.

Baltimore Hunger Project--Healthy Food Priority Areas

UMD--How Drones Could Conquer Food Deserts

Maryland foodbank--Hunger in Maryland

University of Maryland Medical System Announces $1.2 Million Commitment To Address Food Insecurity

Food Insecurity Among College Students