An on-campus food bank and garden will help address food insecurity in college students.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
This vision proposes to study and address food insecurity in college student populations. Recent research and commentary have addressed the rising cost of college tuition in the U.S., and how this affects the food security status of college students. Using Delaware Valley University, a small private suburban university as a case study, the DelVal Food Systems Institute will address food insecurity in the college population by addressing the following themes.
- Environment: One of the major objectives of the DelVal Roth Center for Sustainable Agriculture is to promote good stewardship of environmental resources. This is achieved by utilizing methods of sustainable and organic agriculture to minimize environmental impacts from crop production. Students will have the opportunity to learn and practice sustainable agriculture methods while also growing food to donate to the food bank.
- Diets: One of the objectives of this project is to develop educational materials and programming around healthful diet choices. The food bank can incorporate fresh eggs, fruit, and vegetables from the Roth Center for Sustainable Agriculture and at-risk students will be able to access this food through the student food bank.
- Economics: The economic situation of rising higher education costs in the U.S. has resulted in reports of high rates of food insecurity among college students. Students and families may struggle to afford the high costs of tuition, room and board, textbooks, and other fees. This project proposes to develop internal resources such as a campus food bank and student garden to provide food for at-risk students.
- Culture: The proposed project will create a sense-of community and improve the campus culture by addressing the issue of food insecurity on campus. Students will be able to grow food to feed both themselves as well as their classmates.
- Technology: The proposed food bank will rely on many types of technology to ensure food safety. For example, equipment will be needed to safely clean harvested fruits and vegetables from the Roth Center. In addition, a refrigeration unit will be needed to store all food properly. Students volunteering or receiving credit for working at the Roth Center Food Bank will also receive training on how to use the equipment and follow safe food handling practices.
- Policy: Although this project will focus on one college campus as a model case study, the results of this project can be disseminated through publications and presentations, and may help to raise awareness around the issue of food insecurity and college students. This in turn may result in policies to ensure that college students at U.S. Universities remain food secure.
The student food bank will fit into our overall academic program in Food Systems which currently includes a Food Systems minor. The learning outcomes of our Food Systems minor also exemplify the above themes and include: 1) obtain a global perspective of food systems,understand complexity of soil-to-mouth food production; 2) gain knowledge in the science of food production; 3) identify the environmental impacts of agriculture on native flora and fauna; 4) appreciate the importance of food in human culture; and 5) recognize a One Health approach to the interactions of food and disease. As part of the minor, students can take interdisciplinary courses that cover all six of the above themes. Our Food Systems minor combined with a student food bank program will function to raise awareness about food insecurity among college students and to reduce the incidence of food insecurity on U.S. college campuses.