UBC Undergraduate Research

Green College nutritional assessment Eurchuk, Abbey; Norgaard, Amy; Wong, Amy; Malek, Elmira; Sham, Carmen; Worden, Julie


A nutritional assessment was conducted for the meal plan at Green College in UBC. Green College is residents which houses and provides meals for 96 graduate students across a variety of academic fields. We conducted a number of interviews with residents and chefs to gain insight into the types of nutritional concerns and the barriers that prevent change; a survey to measure the nutritional perceptions of residents; and a nutritional analysis of four meals to determine the fat, sodium, iron and caloric content of the meals. The survey response rate was 75%. The major concern among residents was excess fat (44%), sodium (36%) and sugar (32%) in the meals. Minor concerns included inadequate iron (19%) and excess dairy (13%). Portion sizes were reported to be too large; with only 36% of respondents stating that portion size was just right or too small. The nutritional analysis revealed that for the four meals analyzed iron content was within the recommended ranges for both sexes, sodium was over the 2300 mg UL in half of the recipes, and fat content was within the DRI for both sexes, with the exception of the first vegetarian meal for females. Residents’ perception of the meals reflected both the nutritional content of the meals and common Canadian perceptions and concerns of nutrition. Low survey response rates were determined to be a major barrier for implementing change in the recipes. 22% of respondents reported that they never complete the survey, while only 30% of respondents reported completing the survey on a regular basis (3-4 times a month). Motivation to complete the survey included informing the kitchen of likes and dislikes, making requests and a feeling of personal responsibility. Those who reported to respond rarely or never stated that there was either no motivation or they were discouraged as they felt that the feedback was not being implemented or acknowledged. A number of leverage points for change were identified. We have indicated that communication between residents and chefs is key, weekly surveys should be accompanied by some sort of follow up from the chefs to acknowledge concerns. This may included providing residents with written or verbal notification of the concerns that they have addressed. For GC staff we recommended sauce on the side, offering a half portion option, a standardized serving scoop, low fat and low sodium substitutions when possible and simpler meals. For the residents we recommended implementing a Canadian food guide poster in the dining hall for their reference. We also recommend that residents be aware and mindful of portion size and their own nutritional needs. An informational poster (see Appendix B) was provided to the residents so that they could improve their food choices, highlighting ways to increase iron absorption and limit caloric intake. Future project possibilities include collaboration with the UBC dietetics program.

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