The starving student trope is no laughing matter, says a University of Alberta professor who supervised a study of campus food bank use.

Chalking student hunger up to “short-term pain for long-term gain” underestimates the importance of good nutrition, said Noreen Willows, a community nutritionist with the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science.

“How can you study if you’re hungry?” she said.

A survey of 58 students who used the University of Alberta food bank between April 2013 and April 2014 shows food insecurity — poor access to food — can negatively affect student health and academic achievement.