UBC Undergraduate Research

UBC Food Vision and Values : Phase 3 Fu, Melody; Manitius, Natalie; Stewart, Sonia; Tse, Francesca


Globally, there is an urgent need for transitioning to a more sustainable food system, environmentally, socially and economically, to mitigate the effects of rapid population growth and movement and climate change. Transitioning to a more environmentally friendly diet, like a plant-based diet for instance, can reduce our carbon and water footprint resulting in improved environmental sustainability (Chai et al., 2019). Efforts are also needed to further develop the inclusivity of our food system and can be accomplished by providing culturally appropriate foods. Cultural foods and practices embody our identities and a lack of culturally appropriate foods can lead to food insecurity in migrant populations (Fabio 2014; Vahabi and Damba 2013). In order to contribute to the global transition to a more sustainable food system, a bottom-up approach involving local communities and stakeholders in creating and implementing decisions is critical (Rojas et al., 2011). In this project, we worked collaboratively with UBC’s largest food provider – UBC Food Services (UBCFS) to assess their progress towards food system sustainability using their Food Vision and Values as an evaluation framework. Our goal was to assess, improve, and support the implementation of UBC Food Vision and Values consistently throughout UBCFS providers, and to align UBCFS with sustainability policies. This includes the Okanagan Charter and UBC 20 Year Sustainability plan that encourage practices for healthy people and a healthy planet. The Food Vision and Values highlights the promise to offer more plant-based options in an attempt to reduce environmental impact. Thus, we chose to audit the availability of plant-based options in first-year dining halls. In addition, UBCFS expresses the goal of offering Pacific Northwest cuisine, which does not necessarily accurately represent the needs of the diverse UBC community. According to David Speight, UBCFS is striving to provide foods that are more reflective of the diverse set of cultural identities. Thus, we worked to understand the definition of ‘culturally appropriate’ in the context of UBC, while auditing the extent of ‘culturally appropriate’ foods offered in the three first-year residence dining halls. Through conducting this project, we identified leading practices in the field, assessed the current efforts and progress of the Food Vision and Values through auditing, developed recommendations, and fostered implementation of practices in food values. This was done to evolve Food Vision and Values through identifying, reframing, and expanding the values and definitions in partnership with UBCFS and other stakeholders. We conducted primary and secondary data collection through completing menu audits at the three first-year residence dining halls, in-person surveys, focus groups targeting students of diverse backgrounds and culture groups, a landscape scan of other institutions who implement food values, and a demographic scan of UBC first-year residence students. These were done in order to evaluate UBCFS’ progress in meeting their goals involving Food Vision and Values. After analysis of our primary and secondary data, we provided informed recommendations that better represent community values, and are suitable in achieving goals of food system sustainability at UBC. There were multiple outcomes for this project. We compiled sufficient information in regard to food values of other institutions which allows UBCFS to strive to adapt and improve the UBC Vision and Values. We hope to improve the sustainability of the food system and cohesion of the UBC campus through our collected data on plant-based and culturally appropriate food options. Our report and analysis provides a better understanding of cultural diversity and needs of students, while examining how diversity is reflected in the dining halls. Finally, we created a cohesive set of recommendations from the collected and analysed data in order to improve the UBC Food Vision and Values and inform the next phase of Food Vision and Values. 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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