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UBC Undergraduate Research

Campus Food Security : Building Food Skills and Food Knowledge with Enrolment Services Nozadi, Kimia; Hozar, Antoni; Viljoen, Ashley; Umuhoza, Gisele


Scientific Justification: University Students are at significant risk of food insecurity, partly due to inadequate income-support (Hughes et al, 2011). Therefore, students are forced to develop coping mechanisms. Some of these include income generation, austerity measures including working longer hours or living with parents and borrowing money for food. While Hughes et al. (2011) identified low income, government assistance, and sharing or renting accommodation as significant risk factors in food insecurity, enrolment services have identified four at-risk groups within UBC: students on meal plans (particularly first-year students); graduate students; international students; and indigenous students. Food insecurity has been linked to higher body mass index (BMI), overeating, hunger, fatigue, illness, and stress, among others (Olson, 1990; Hamelin, Habicht, & Beaudry, 1999). However, it has been shown that nutrition education, particularly regarding the systems that those who are insecure are living within, can significantly improve outcomes (Eicher-Miller et al. 2009). Overall goals: The overall goal was to help address food insecurity and hunger in the largest possible cross-section of UBC students by creating a readily available and easily accessible document - “The Food Preparedness Guide”. This guide will contain resources requested/informed by students, possibly including but not limited to budgeting tips, and information regarding further assistance such as the AMS Food Bank or community programs. Specific Objectives: • Consult with students from each of the outlined at-risk groups to determine what kinds of resources would be most beneficial to them. This includes determining what they would like to see included in the guide, the format of its availability, and when it will be distributed. • Present our findings to Enrolment Services and provide them an evidence approach to remodeling their existing guide. The aim of this is to integrate all relevant food resources and information into one comprehensive document, which is both effective and easy to use. Methods: This study applies the concept of intersectionality to study food insecurity on UBC campus and analyzes the efficacy of ESA’s Food Preparedness Guide both quantitatively and qualitatively. We recruited individuals of four identified at-risk student-groups: Graduate students; international students; incoming first years, and indigenous students. In the first phase of the study, we conducted in-depth analysis of existing studies to inform us and Enrolment Services on best policies being used both in Canada and other tertiary institutions. Moreover, the second phase of the study consisted of Researcher-led focus groups to elicit students’ perceptions of food insecurity and its impact on their social, emotional and physical well-being. The surveys distributed, at both the focus groups and stands, included a series of guided questions to ensure respondents directly address the topic. Additionally, the surveys also consisted of open-ended question so as to allow students to provide further context/depth. The questions were mainly centered around respondent’s own state of food security, how they - if at all - addressed it, what they would have liked to have known, and – after having been shown the Preparedness Guide - what changes they would make etc. Conclusion: In examining the interlocking domains of the student’s experiences, we found that food insecurity is the outcome of immediate issues around food availability, accessibility and utilisation - it can and does on occasion spiral into less costly lower quality food among university students. That said, we expect a reduction in food insecurity in both the identified at-risk groups and the general student body, due to a strengthened ability to support oneself via the use of relevant and up-to-date resources, as well as heightened knowledge of additional resources available. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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