UBC Undergraduate Research

Health Equity Impact Assessment for UBC’s Meal Share Chan, Rachel; Cui, Betty; Hsu, Fang-Yu; Kwasniak, Anna; Meng, Kiki; Perera, Malki


Currently, over 30% of UBC students are food insecure mainly due to high tuition and low income. Food insecurity compromises students’ physical and mental health, and contributes to social exclusion, stigma, and poor diet quality. Food insecurity also disproportionately affects international students, transgender/nonbinary individuals, those with underlying health conditions, and students using student loans. Our group partnered with the UBC Food Security Initiative to conduct a Health Equity Impact Assessment for the UBC Meal Share Program. The goal of the project is to improve food security of equity-seeking groups at UBC through the Meal Share Program. We conducted focus groups discussion with food-insecure UBC Thunderbirds residents to investigate the potential unintended negative and positive health impacts of the UBC Meal Share Program. Participants’ discussion provided the foundation for the Health Equity Impact Assessment. Through the Health Equity Impact Assessment, we hope to increase the Food Security Initiative’s knowledge on the health impacts of and factors promoting participation in the UBC Meal Share Program. Beyond our project, it is hoped that the UBC Meal Share Program would implement more equity-based measures to improve program equity so that the Program can reach people who need it the most. To achieve our objectives, we reviewed literature, conducted focus groups with UBC students, and consulted with a program strategist from a similar program, Swipe Out Hunger. We found that focus group participants appreciated the low-barrier and stigma-free nature of the Meal Share Program. However, most would appreciate more flexibility in the funding source and more extensive promotion of the program. To evaluate our focus group question, we consulted with the Project Manager of the Food Security Initiative and Program Strategist at Swipe Out Hunger, for their feedback. To evaluate our focus group interviews, we assessed the number of participants reached versus aimed and their perceived level of opportunity to share during the focus group through a closing survey. 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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