UBC Undergraduate Research

UBC Food Vision & Values : Phase 5 : Advancing Seasonal, Local, Low-impact and Plant-Based Food Values Soice, Sean; Macalalag, Gabriel; Lam, Serene; Feng, Shadow; Little, Katie


The University of British Columbia Vancouver campus is similar to a city in that it is responsible for the facilities that house, feed, and maintain the health and wellbeing of thousands of faculty, staff, and students. Just like cities around the world, UBC is contending with the sustainability crises, such as the health, social and environmental degradation that threatens our food supplies and is perpetuated from our daily food choices. UBC is expecting an increase in population and housing capacity needs, with over 33,000 full-time students and plans to house over 17,000 by 2030 (UBC Vancouver Campus Plan, 2010). A concern for any population of this size is the maintenance of a food system that supplies enough food. Additionally, contemporary food systems have negative environmental and social externalities that threaten the current global food supply. To address the challenges of providing not only enough food but sustainably sourced food, UBC Food Services (UBCFS) aspires to develop a sustainable food system on campus. To help initiate and guide actions, UBCFS created their Food Visions & Values (FV&V) in 2017- a list of guiding principles that ensures food provision is locally grown, plant-based, seasonal. Projects from previous years focused on auditing the performance of UBCFS and its adherence to the FV&V, including the availability of water fountains, reducing meat consumption and selecting culturally appropriate food choices. However, the definition of “plant-based”, “local”, & “seasonal” foods, in the context of the UBC food system, could be advanced. The purpose of our research is to review and update the current practices and guidelines on UBC Vancouver campus that are aimed at advancing the UBCFS’s FV&V, specifically pertaining to seasonal, local, and plant-based food options. Previous projects have done auditing on plant based options, availability of free drinking water stations and culturally appropriate foods. We aim to further build upon this work, and also expand our research on other related values including seasonal and local food sources. To succeed in achieving this purpose, the research will focus on three goals, including: 1) To gauge where UBCFS stands on food sustainability practices in comparison to other institutions, specifically looking at food policies and guidelines related to seasonal, local, and plant-based foods, 2) To advance the FV&V list and update definitions for local, seasonal and plant-based foods as they are used in the values and 3) To develop a database that can be used to assess progress and adherence to the UBCFS FV&V. Specific objectives to realise these goals include: 1) Revise and advance UBCFS definitions of local, seasonal, and plant-based foods. Use these definitions alongside our research to provide recommendations that accurately measure and assess the UBCFS FV&V, 2.Review how other institutions are adopting and implementing sustainable food policies and guidelines related to plant-based, seasonal and local foods. Use our findings to assist in informing the evolution of our UBCFS’s FV&V commitments, 3)To gauge the UBC Vancouver student body’s understanding of current UBCFS FV&V and develop strategies to update and better fit their needs while developing a sustainable food system, and 4) Conduct an audit of existing practices related to plant-based foods to further align with UBCFS’s FV&V goals. The methodology of this research will be centered on the principles of Community-Based Action Research (CBAR) (Nasrollahi, 2015) where we will collaborate with key stakeholders from UBCFS.The proposed methods of this project is a mix between primary and secondary research, including open-ended interviews with food vendors on campus, closed-question survey of the student body as well as a textual audit on plant-based foods offered at UBCFS and a landscape scan combined with literature review. The key deliverables of this project include an audit of plant-based food options and report of plant-based, seasonal and local components of UBCFS FV&V. The desired outcome of our project would include an increased understanding and advancement of plant-based, seasonal, and local concepts in the evolution of UBCFS’s FV&V on campus and beyond. 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.”

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International