Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Leadership, Administration, and Research


College of Education


Ane Turner Johnson, Ph.D.

Committee Member 1

Sarah Ferguson, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2

Cecile H. Sam, Ph.D.


academic success; basic needs; food insecurity; higher education; sense of belonging; student persistence


Educational attainment; Food security


Education | Higher Education


Improving college degree completion is a focus of higher education administrators across the United States. There are many barriers to student success (Astin & Oseguera, 2005; Tinto, 1993) and food insecurity is one of these barriers impacting academic performance, persistence, and degree completion (Hege et al., 2021; Maroto et al., 2015; Payne-Sturges et al., 2018; Silva et al., 2017; Woerden et al., 2019). Food insecurity impacts 13.5 million households in the United States (Coleman-Jensen et al., 2022). This concurrent mixed method embedded multiple-case study explored the academic disposition and sense of belonging of racially diverse food insecure students enrolled in two New Jersey public four-year institutions. Through the theoretical lens of Museus’s (2014) Culturally Engaging Campus Environments (CECE) Model of Student Success, the relationship of food security status and the culturally responsive indicators of the CECE Model, sense of belonging, academic dispositions, and academic performance were examined. Results revealed that food insecure students reported lower levels of academic disposition, less of a sense of belonging, and performed worse academically than their food secure peers. This study highlights the need to heighten awareness, improve access, and expand holistic support to empower food insecure students and foster academic success.

Available for download on Sunday, May 03, 2026