People who are economically vulnerable often experience higher rates of morbidity and mortality. In the language of life history theory, such individuals experience a greater amount of environmental harshness, which is a concept that captures the degree of morbidity/mortality and resource availability in one’s environment. According to life history theory, individuals experiencing greater amounts of environmental harshness often display a “fast” life history strategy in which reproductive effort is maximized in favor of somatic investments. A consequence of this trade-off is that individuals tend to be oriented towards current as opposed to future conditions. Individuals experiencing greater environmental harshness may act in ways in which resource investments are prioritized to maximize current gains, even if such behaviors result in reduced long-term wellbeing. Economically vulnerable individuals are also often more food insecure. While food insecurity (FI) is linked to low resource availability it might also contribute to morbidity and mortality through lower nutrition and increased psychological distress. Among college students FI is associated with deleterious academic, physical, and mental health outcomes. This is important considering that FI among college students typically exceeds that of the general population. This project examines FI among US college students through the lens of biological anthropology. Specifically, I utilize frameworks from behavioral ecology and human adaptability to explore the ecology of food insecurity among college students. In 2020, during the height of the COVID pandemic, n=51 resource insecure students participated in a mixed-methods study exploring the prevalence and correlates of FI. Participants completed a quantitative survey and an additional semi-structured interview that assessed: household food insecurity, dietary patterns, psychological distress, sociodemographic variables, living situation, resource utilization, COVID-related work disruptions, perceptions of mortality risk, resource availability, future orientation, and economic wellbeing effort. Using these data, I had three aims: (1) test associations between measures of environmental harshness and economic effort, mental distress, and diet; (2) perform an exploratory analysis examining linkages between FI, mental distress, diet, environmental harshness, and demographic and control variables; and (3) use data to examine how FI changed over COVID-19 and identify coping mechanisms that protect some individuals from increasing FI during COVID.