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Walker B. Gagnon, Jake Tingom, Victoria Tredinnick, Steven Pfeiffer, Amy Knab, FACSM. Queens University of Charlotte, Charlotte, NC.

BACKGROUND: Nutrition and food insecurity for many student-athletes became a source of stress and a logistical hurdle if under quarantine or isolation on or off campus during the spring of 2021. The purpose of this study was to investigate the level of impact quarantine or isolation protocols had on nutritional intake, and food insecurity in student-athletes. METHODS: A survey was developed specific to nutritional intake, and food insecurity outcomes. The anonymous survey (Microsoft Forms) was distributed via email to student-athletes toward the end of the Spring 2021 semester. RESULTS: 124 participants consented to the study (55 males, 68 females, 66% white). 64% of subjects reported having to isolate or quarantine at least once, with 50% doing so on campus. 65% of athletes reported their eating habits changed drastically or moderately during isolation or quarantine. Athletes reported decreases in intake of vegetable (68.3%), grain (59.5%), fruit (64.6%), lean protein (58.3%), and red meat (65.8%). Student-athletes also reported feeling insecure about food (51%), and reported quarantine/isolation (30.8%), or access to the cafeteria (35.9%) as the top two sources of insecurity, with financial insecurity still reported as the number one source by 28% of respondents. 29% of student-athletes reported having to eat less than they felt they should because of not enough food or money, with 52% reporting still feeling hungry after eating a meal in the cafeteria. 63% of student-athletes reported not being able to work as they previously did due to COVID. Finally, 90% of student-athlete reported that their coaches understand their basic nutritional needs, yet 42% report practice often conflicts with dining hall hours. CONCLUSIONS: The primary sources of nutritional stress were related to quarantine protocols, cafeteria hours and access, and other financial insecurities. Nutritional access and food insecurity should be a priority in future studies and considered paramount in developing support plans for student-athletes.

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