UBC Undergraduate Research

Addressing Food Insecurity Stigma Through Low-Cost (not free) Food Resources Droeger, Abby; Sams, Alexis; Leung, Athina; Cheung, Kitty; Zich, Will


Previous research on food security at UBC finds that close to 40% of the student body classify as food insecure (Rideout & James, 2017). While the University offers food banks and experimental food sharing services, the SEEDS client believes that a stigma surrounding the use of food insecurity resources inhibits their access, most concerningly among the most severe cases of the resource’s target population. This research compares models of food distribution designed to be less stigmatizing. Background research demonstrates the necessity of addressing internalized stigma, not just hiding stigmatized behaviors. We conducted a survey of UBC students to compare their perspectives on different three food distribution models: food banks that distribute food for free, sliding-scale stores, and a grocery store that operates at no profit (“at cost”) with a volunteer staff. Participants indicated that an at-cost grocery store is the least stigmatizing, and said they were most likely to use it and most comfortable using it. Based on the statistical significance of our findings, we propose to the client the opening of an at-cost grocery store on the UBC campus to address food insecurity as a less stigmatized program. 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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