Veggies on Campus - Where, Why & How Dalhousie Students Access Fresh Produce
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In this study, the purchasing patterns of fresh produce amongst Dalhousie students on the Halifax campuses are identified and assessed in order to determine correlating factors and variables pertaining to the logistics and motives affecting students’ relationship to short local food systems. The objective of the research project was to examine the relationships between pre-existing areas of academic interest - food security, student contributions to sustainable, local economies - and important barriers students face in these areas that have not generally been considered in previous studies. At Dalhousie University, where we conducted our research, there has yet to be a published piece of literature or research focusing on the specific barriers students face in accessing food. Similarly, there lacks a research project focusing on different categories or types of food groups, such as processed food, restaurant meals and so on. This research project focuses on fresh produce as it generally entails less packaging and manufacturing, and therefore the end product contains more nutrients than most processed foods (Bucher et al., 2017). Using a fifteen-question survey, we collected responses focused on potential factors and specific purchasing patterns. These responses were subjected to statistical analysis to test the validity of background research and hypotheses. Two One Way ANOVAs were completed to test for significance on paired survey questions that had possibilities of uncovering trends. Qualitative results were coded. In the analysis, one ANOVA suggested significant results between the respondent’s living arrangements and the amount of money spent on food items on campus. The survey responses also provided valuable insight on key factors such as accessibility and location as these were some of the primary determinants towards where respondents purchased their fresh produce. Finally, we provide recommendations for food initiatives being conducted at Dalhousie University, such as the Dalhousie Student Union Farmer’s Market and the DSU Food Bank. We anticipate that these recommendations could assist in addressing the barriers students face in accessing fresh produce whilst encouraging participation in local food production and providing students with access to fresh local produce as a key aspect of campus growth.