Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition
(P04-103-20) Exploring Undergraduate Indigenous Students’ Experiences with Institutional and Community Food Systems in a Canadian Urban Setting
Objectives: Due to the high prevalence rates of food insecurity among university students and Indigenous Peoples in Canada, a qualitative study was designed to investigate the experiences of self-identified Indigenous students accessing local food environments. Research objectives included: 1) exploring undergraduate Indigenous students' experiences with institutional and community food systems in an urban setting; and 2) examining programs in place or in development on and off-campus that address circumstances of food insecurity and the needs of Indigenous students.
Methods: Data collection included face-to-face semi-structured interviews with eight students who self-identified as First Nations, Inuit or Métis. A focus group was conducted with four service providers, including stakeholders from institutional and local urban communities. Data was analyzed using thematic analysis.
Results: Participants identified several themes that were organized into individual, interpersonal organizational and community levels according to the socio-ecological model. Themes included: food and nutrition knowledge, financial capacity, convenience, social influences, campus food environment, cultural and institutional support. A model was also created to represent the results based on the themes from the focus group data. Focus group participants discussed linkages of social support and connectedness to increase Indigenous student access to food systems beyond the parameters of the university institution. Barriers to local food systems for students were lack of awareness of local resources and stigma associated with emergency food assistance.
Conclusions: Results suggest that Indigenous students are primarily focused on individual food and interpersonal social environments at the university and have limited awareness and exposure to the services available in the wider community and local food environment. Indigenous students and community members require an increased level of organizational and community awareness to support urban Indigenous food security programming across food environments to sustainably address circumstances of food insecurity experienced by Indigenous university students.
Funding Sources: The Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, The University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Hannah Tait Neufeld
Assistant Professor University of Waterloo Waterloo, Ontario, Canada