Sodexo, a leader in quality, multichannel, and flexible food experiences, conducted the 2022 iteration of its Student Lifestyle Survey, a foundational research tool conducted for more than 15 years. This year’s survey concentrates on the expectations, concerns, and challenges faced by today’s Gen Z college students and high school students planning to attend college.

“While today’s students acknowledge the support being provided by their schools’ administrations, this generation has been impacted in unprecedented ways by the pandemic and other major world events and many are still struggling. Of the approximately one-third of students who have considered dropping out, 60% cite physical and mental health as their number one reason, up significantly from 2020, replacing financial problems as the top reason,” Jeni Golomb, senior vice president, product and marketing strategy of Sodexo North America, said. “Our study provides insights on how to combat this ever-rising concern of mental health decline, including the importance of socialization provided by a campus dining hall.”

 The report categorizes the student insights into four main dimensions: resilience, social success, financial well-being, and physical health. Some of the key findings include:

  • 53% of current college students reported that they are currently concerned with feeling lonely, and 47% reported they are concerned with feeling isolated.
  • Over 60% of today’s college students report having felt overwhelmed and anxious, a 50% increase from 2020. 87% of current college students say that eating together is the most typical way that they socialize with friends, and more than 50% expect their campus’s dining hall to serve as that place to connect.
  • Current college students are impacted by the stress of financial insecurity, with four out of five students reporting that they are concerned about money and 41% admitting to having skipped a meal to save money.
  • Half of all current college students surveyed reported that they are concerned about the state of their overall health, with a majority saying they know they should eat healthily but don’t let it dictate their lives.  They also see value in meal plans that help prioritize convenience and time-saving options. 
  • When deciding which university to attend, 82% of current college students seek out a friendly atmosphere where they feel they “fit” – convenience, attractive and welcoming campus, and a positive tour set the stage.

“We have the opportunity to be allies for student resilience. We can build community in our dining halls, offer students resources to help them proactively manage their mental health, provide affordable meal plans with access to convenient, healthy food, and offer students opportunities to step out of their comfort zones and grow more resilient,” Golomb said. “Above all, we can keep researching and listening to our students to offer tangible improvements in their lives both on and off campus.”

This report was developed using research conducted in collaboration with Finch Brands. As part of this research, 490 U.S. university and college students completed the Sodexo Student Lifestyle Survey, and 207 high school students participated in a secondary survey. In addition, ten current college students and four high school students participated in 60-minute qualitative interviews to gain deeper insight into student perceptions.

About Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 55 countries. Sodexo provides quality, multichannel and flexible food experiences, but also designs attractive and inclusive workplaces and shared spaces, manages and maintains infrastructure in a safe and environmentally friendly way, offers personalized support for patients or students and even creates programs fostering employee engagement. The company employs 90,066 people at thousands of sites in all 50 U.S. states, Canada, Puerto Rico and Guam, and indirectly supports tens of thousands of additional jobs through its annual purchases of $20B in goods and services from small to large businesses. Sodexo North America is committed to focusing on tangible everyday gestures and actions through its integrated services to create a better every day for everyone and build a better life for all. 

 

Amanda Giffi
Sodexo
Amanda.Giffi@Sodexo.com
Sodexo (EU:SW)
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