1Queen’s UniversityFood Insecurity ReportNovember 2019This report was prepared for the Office of the Provost by Mikayla Sebesta, Student Researcher. Wesincerely acknowledge the contributions of the Food Insecurity Working Group in contributing tothe report, and more importantly, in responding to food insecurity at Queen’s University.
2Table of ContentsExecutive Summary. 3Introduction . 5Definitions. 5Background . 6Review:. 7Summary of conversations with partners. 7Summary of data. 7Environmental Scan of Services and Supports. 9Food Insecurity Strategic Priority Areas. 10Strategic Priority Areas: . 10Education and Awareness. 10Environment. 11Community. 11Skill Building . 11Policy . 12Recommendations: . 12Education and Awareness. 12Environment. 12Community. 13Skill Building . 13Policy . 13Next Steps and Final Considerations . 14Appendix 1: Working Group Mandate and Membership . 15Appendix 2: List of Partner Meetings and Questions . 16Appendix 3: Queen’s University Environmental Scan. 18Appendix 4: Research on other Canadian Post-Secondary Institutions . 24Appendix 5: list of grocery stores surrounding Queen’s campus, and student discounts . 38
3Executive SummaryThe Queen’s University Food Insecurity Report was developed for the Office of the Provost inorder to review current practices and trends, as well as to provide recommendations respondingto student food insecurity at Queen’s University. It is our hope that this report will encourage acontinued dialogue and inform key actions that respond to student food insecurity. As theunderstanding of this issue within Canadian universities evolves, we are committed to adjustingour response appropriately.Part of the work in the group was to deepen the understanding of the terms related to foodinsecurity as they pertained to the Queen’s University context. Through discussions within thegroup and with key stakeholders, and from review of available data it was noted that currentinitiatives on campus primarily address food access rather than food insecurity. The workinggroup recognizes that food insecurity in Canada and on post-secondary campuses is a function oflimited financial ability to pay for good, nutritious food. Poverty results from systems ofoppression that work to further marginalize women, Indigenous people, people of colour andpeople with disabilities, among other historically disadvantaged populations. We recognize thatsystemic forms of oppression exist within the food system, and we advocate to empower thosemost affected by inequitable food systems within our campus.The following recommendations were made in line with the identified strategic priority areas:Education and Awareness:Continue to support a student food insecurity committee; create and provide funding for aStudent Group Food Collective; create a centralized databank of available resources andprograms leading to an enhanced communication strategyEnvironment:Continue to encourage evidence-based programing based on good and emerging practices; andrecommend a review of the model and operations of the AMS Food Bank and support it inaddressing issues such as hours of operation, accessibility and stigmaCommunity:Maximize dignity and reduce stigma in all food insecurity programing; and continue to supportawareness activities that reflect an understanding of the root causes of food insecurity as a socialjustice issueSkill Building:Support programs that provide students with opportunities to prepare healthy, affordable mealsPolicy:Encourage tracking of food bank and other program usage and, where appropriate, share dataannually; advocate for consideration of student food insecurity in all policies and programs thatfocus on the undergraduate and/or graduate student experience; and support initiatives thatincrease needs-based funding for students
4Further to these goals, it is recommended that work in this area continue to be sponsored by theOffice of the Provost as a campus wide issue. Continued efforts should work to create a foodculture on Queen’s campus, recognizing food insecurity as a social justice issue. In order toeffectively address food security at its root we need to work with multiple campus partners andcontinue to engage with students who are affected.
5IntroductionThe Queen’s University Food Insecurity Report was developed for the Office of the Provost inorder to review current practices and trends, as well as to provide recommendations respondingto student food insecurity at Queen’s University. It is our hope that this report will encourage acontinued dialogue and inform key actions that respond to student food insecurity. As theunderstanding of this issue within Canadian universities evolves, we are committed to adjustingour response appropriately.DefinitionsFood Insecurity: the inability to acquire or consume an adequate diet quality or sufficientquantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so1.Degrees of food insecurity range from low – worry about running out of money for food; tomoderate – compromising quality and quantity of food; to severe – the above, plus skippingmeals and restricting caloric intake. Insufficient income is the primary determinant of foodinsecurity2 however other factors including precariousness of income3, geographical access4, andlimited food literacy5 are also determinants. Food insecurity has been shown to have significantadverse effects on physical6 and mental7 health.Food Access: improving access to food. This can be through financial, geographical (locationson campus), hours of operation of the food bank or other programs, increasing the speed ofservice at food outlets; introducing targeted cooking programs (for students leaving residence lifefor example, etc.).8Food Justice: working to dismantle systemic forms of oppression that exist in our food systemand to empower those most affected by inequitable systems.9Food Literacy: is a set of attributes including food and nutrition knowledge, food skills, andconfidence in food choices.10 Food literacy contributes to enabling people to make good related1Anderson, S. A. (1990). Core indicators of nutritional state for difficult-to- sample populations. J Nutr, 120(11S),1559-1600.2Carter, Dubois & Trembley 2012; Loopstra & Tarasuk, 2015; Tarasuk, Mitchell & Dachner, 2011; 20143Belyea, 2018; Ford & Beaumier, 2011; Olabiyi & McIntryre, 20144Bedore, 2010; Dachner et al., 2010; Kirkpatrick & Tarasuk, 20105McIntyre et al., 2004; McLaughlin, Tarasuk & Krieger, 2003; Power, 20056Tarasuk, Chen, de Oliveria, Dachner, Gundersen, Kurdyak 20157Jessiman-perrault & McIntyre 2017; McIntyre, Wu, Kwok, Patten 20178Belyea, S. (2019). Campus Food Insecurity. Definitions and Considerations for the Queen's Food Insecurity WorkingGroup. Presentation, Gordon Hall, Queen's University9FoodShare (2019). Food Justice. Retrieved from https://foodshare.net/about/food-justice/10Perry, E.A., Thomas, H., Samra, H.R., Edmonstone, S., Davidson, L., Faulkner, A., Petermann, L., Manafò, E. andKirkpatrick, S.I., 2017. Identifying attributes of food literacy: a Public health nutrition, 20(13), pp.2406-2415
6decisions that support health.11 Understandings of food literacy also consider the influence ofenvironmental and social contexts.12Food Culture: refers to the practices, attitudes, and beliefs as well as the networks andinstitutions surrounding the production, distribution, and consumption of food.13BackgroundThe Food Insecurity Working Group was established in June 2019 to evaluate current trends,scan current practices both internal and external to Queen’s, and make recommendations. TheWorking Group mandate and membership can be found in Appendix 1.Part of the work in the group was to deepen the understanding of the terms related to foodinsecurity as they pertained to the Queen’s University context. Through discussions within thegroup and with key stakeholders, and from review of available data it was noted that currentinitiatives on campus primarily address food access rather than food insecurity. We decided tocontinue to use the term Food Insecurity Working Group (FIWG) to signal our intention toaddress the broad dimensions of food insecurity noted in the definition above. The workinggroup recognizes that food insecurity in Canada and on post-secondary campuses is a function oflimited financial ability to pay for good, nutritious food. Poverty results from systems ofoppression that work to further marginalize women, Indigenous people, people of colour andpeople with disabilities among other historically disadvantaged populations. We recognize thatsystemic forms of oppression exist within the food system, and we advocate to empower thosemost affected by inequitable food systems within our campus.Food insecurity is widely understood as a social determinant of health.14 Lack of access toadequate nutrition among post-secondary students in Canada has been correlated with loweredacademic performance, mental health challenges, and poor physical health.15 Thus we recognizethat food insecurity should be considered in relation to the larger student experience at Queen’sUniversity, and specifically in the forthcoming Campus Wellness Strategy. Other workhappening through the Truth and Reconciliation Roundtable, the University Committee on AntiRacism and Equity and upcoming discussions related to the Internationalization strategy allinfluence the student experience and should also understand the inequitable experiences ofpoverty for certain populations of students. As we continue to diversify Queen’s campus, we11Cullen, T., Hatch, J., Martin, W., Wharf Higgins, J., & Sheppard, R. (2015). Food literacy: Definition and frameworkfor action. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, 76(3), 140-145.12Silverthorn, D. (2016). Hungry for knowledge: Assessing the prevalence of student food insecurity onfive Canadian campuses. Toronto: Meal Exchange. Retrieved from: http://mealexchange.com.13The Wellness Essentials (2019). What Is Food Culture And What Does It Have To Do With Our Health?Retrieved from: th14Tarasuk V, Mitchell A, Dachner N. Household food insecurity in Canada 2012. Research to identify policy optionsto reduce food insecurity (PROOF). 2014. Retrieved from: /Household Food Insecurity in Canada-2012 ENG.pdf15Silverthorn, D. (2016). Hungry for knowledge: Assessing the prevalence of student food insecurity onfive Canadian campuses. Toronto: Meal Exchange. Retrieved from: http://mealexchange.com.
7must also consider food insecurity when identifying supports, services and programs to meetstudent needs.Review:Summary of conversations with partnersIn conversation with campus partners, and by reviewing available data related to food insecurityon campus, we can see that when Queen’s students experience student food insecurity, it remainslargely invisible. Many campus partners clearly expressed that some Queen’s studentsexperience moderate to severe food insecurity. International students, graduate students, studentswith family responsibilities and female-identified students were seen to be most likely toexperience food insecurity. Students at the intersection of more than one of these identities wereseen to be the most food insecure. The questions used to guide partner meetings and the completelist of partner meetings conducted for this report can be found in Appendix 2.Financial hardship is the most significant challenge leading to difficulty accessing food. Inaddition, the perceived affluence of the Queen’s population was seen by many campus partnersto mask the issue of food insecurity. Pressure to maintain appearances with their peers, and thestigma associated with being food insecure, means that many students who are struggling withfood insecurity are not easily identifiable and their experiences of food insecurity can become asocially isolating experience. Campus partners believed that the stigma and shame associatedwith being food insecure was amplified within the Queen’s environment, where many assumethat all students are financially stable. Any programming targeted at relieving challengesassociated with food insecurity must take this into consideration.Summary of dataQueen’s participates in the National College Health Assessment (NCHA) survey, acomprehensive health survey conducted every three years. For the first time in 2019, the survey(n 2,349) included 3 additional (Queen’s specific) questions related to food insecurity. The datademonstrates that some students at Queen’s are certainly experiencing food insecurity. Studentswere asked to describe how often, over the past academic year (since September 2018), theyworried their food would run out before they had enough money to buy more, skippedmeals/went hungry, or deliberately substituted buying and eating low-cost foods instead of moreexpensive ones. Data indicated that many students, 37% (n 621) do make deliberatesubstitutions of lower cost foods, and that 6.3% (n 145) of students are worried about foodrunning out before they have enough money to buy more. Most significantly, 3.4% (n 78) ofstudents skipped meals or went hungry because they could not afford to eat.While these are not high numbers, it is important to note that the impact on these students can besevere. Further analysis shows that students experiencing food insecurity were more likely toreport higher stress levels, have languishing mental health, work more than 10 hours a week forpay, and were less likely to have a GPA in the “A” range.1616Humphrys, K. (2019). Queen’s University 2019 NCHA National College Health Assessment. Initial Analysis of FoodInsecurity Questions for Food Insecurity Working Group. Presentation, Gordon Hall, Queen's University
8In spring 2018, Student Affairs and Hospitality Services launched Swipe It Forward Queen’s.This peer-to-peer support initiative is based on similar programs at US schools intended toaddress some of the food insecurity issues on campuses. The Swipe It Forward Queen’s programis believed to be the first of its kind in Canada. The program gives students with a meal plan theoption of donating one meal a week to the program (up to five per term) from the current week’smeals. During the academic year, students experiencing food insecurity can contact a range ofprogram partners across Student Affairs, and up to 25 meals per term can be loaded on to theirstudent card. These meals can be used in the dining halls or at retail food locations on campus.When meals are redeemed, no one is aware that the meals are from the program, as all studentscan use their student cards at food outlets. To date, 2,921 students on meal plans have donated4,177 meals and 397 students have accessed the program. Since its launch, there has been asteady increase in the number of meals issued to students, which reflects the need for thisprogram, as well as increasing awareness of it as a resource for students experiencing foodinsecurity.In the fall 2018 semester, two fourth-year Nursing students did a Community Health Promotioncourse practicum placement with Student Affairs and focused on the Swipe It Forward Queen’sprogram. The goal of their assessment and project was to make students more knowledgeableand aware of food insecurity and the available resources. They conducted a student survey andfound 40% of respondents did not know about existing efforts on campus, including Swipe ItForward Queen’s. Students also demonstrated that they did not fully understand the definition ofbeing ‘food insecure’. While nearly 40% of students who responded reported experiencing someform of food insecurity, they would not label themselves as such and it is not a regular topic ofdiscussion for them.Unpublished research by Power et al. indicated that Queen’s students may be chronically orcyclically food insecure for a variety of reasons including inadequate financial resources forpurchasing food, and challenges when transitioning to independent living after living at home orin residence.17 Students also spoke about difficulty in accessing food due to class schedules anddistance from sources of affordable food.On the national level, it appears that the issue of food insecurity among students may be evenmore acute. A report published by Meal Exchange in 2016 found that of the eight Canadian postsecondary institutions they researched (University of Northern British Colombia, University ofCalgary, University of Saskatchewan, Lakehead University, Brock University, RyersonUniversity, Dalhousie University and Acadia University) “nearly two in five (39%) studentssurveyed experienced some form of food insecurity”.18 The findings of the report “suggest thatfood insecurity is a serious issue for post-secondary students in Canada”.1917Power et al. (2019). The invisibility of student food insecurity atQueen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.18Silverthorn, D. (2016). Hungry for knowledge: Assessing the prevalence of student food insecurity onfive Canadian campuses. Toronto: Meal Exchange. Retrieved from: http://mealexchange.com.19Silverthorn, D. (2016). Hungry for knowledge: Assessing the prevalence of student food insecurity onfive Canadian campuses. Toronto: Meal Exchange. Retrieved from: http://mealexchange.com.
9Environmental Scan of Services and SupportsBetween July and October 2019, student food researcher Mikayla Sebesta worked within themandate of the working group to produce an environmental scan of the programs and servicesthat focus on food insecurity at Queen’s University. Her review examined approaches employedby ten other post-secondary institutions located in Ontario and Quebec that address foodinsecurity. She also met with campus partners to discuss student experiences of food insecurity,and reviewed current available data related to food insecurity at Queen’s.The environmental scan of programs and services that focus on food insecurity at Queen’s can befound in Appendix 3. Many programs related to food insecurity are recorded in this scan, but itmay not be inclusive of all the programs at Queen’s University as some programs may not bewidely publicized. While the bulk of programming addresses food access, initiatives such as thePromise Scholar Program and enhancing needs-based funding do directly impact income forstudents. Some of the programs listed track program usage, however, this wasn’t available for allprograms and services. Other than Swipe it Forward, no specific demographic data has beencollected about the students who are utilizing many of these programs. Research states thatprograms such as food banks, cooking classes and budgeting programs only help to mitigate theimpacts of food insecurity, they do not directly address the problem.20 21 Programs that trulyreduce food insecurity address the root cause of poverty leading to food insecurity.While many of the programs and services offered on university campuses, including Queen’s, donot claim to solve food insecurity, they do play an important role in supporting students.Existing programs provide free food, teach budgeting and cooking skills, help create a sense ofcommunity and lead to increased awareness about food insecurity. They also help to raiseawareness about the available resources.Several U15 companion schools along with Humber College, George Brown College, and theUniversity of Guelph were selected as part of an external scan of programs and servicesaddressing student food insecurity. These schools were identified for review due to interesting ornotable work being done on their campus. The findings of this research are outlined in Appendix4.On October 30th, 2019, Queen’s sent a delegate to Hungry for Knowledge, a full day Roundtableon Food Insecurity Amongst Post-Secondary Students at Ontario Universities withrepresentatives from Lakehead University, Maple Leaf Foods, McMaster University, MealExchange, Nipissing University, Ryerson University, University of Guelph, University ofWaterloo, and Western University. There was Ontario-wide interest expressed by representativesin attendance about understanding student experiences of food insecurity, and effective20Huisken, A., Orr, S. K., & Tarasuk, V. (2016). Adults’ food skills and use of gardens are not associated withhousehold food insecurity in Canada. Can J Public Health, 107(6), e526-e532.21Loopstra, R., & Tarasuk, V. (2013). Perspectives on Community Gardens, Community Kitchens and the Good FoodBox Program in a Community-based Sample of Low income Families. 104(1), e55-e59.
10intuitional responses. There also was an interested in sharing the results of research projectsbeing conducted across the province.Food Insecurity Strategic Priority AreasThrough conversations with community partners and a review of relevant literature, the FoodInsecurity Working Group identified five strategic areas to help address food insecurity atQueen’s.EducationPolicySkill Building--EnvironmentCommunity Healthy campus communityStrategic Priority Areas:Education and AwarenessThrough conversations with campus partners it was highlighted that students were unaware ofthe resources and programs available on campus related to food access. Due to the stigmaassociated with food insecurity, and pressure to maintain an appearance of affluence, students areunlikely to reach out to formal resources and supports. Ensuring that information about options for food insecurity is available, accurate, up-todate, relevant, and easily accessible for studentsIt was also highlighted in meetings with campus partners that the issue of food insecurity atQueen’s is mostly invisible to those who do not experience it. Staff, faculty, and students are not
11aware that some students are having difficulty accessing food. By raising awareness about theissues of food insecurity on campus, more conversations can be facilitated around destigmatizingfood access. Raising awareness about the issue of food insecurity on Queen’s campus, and existingsupports available to students.EnvironmentIn order to address systemic causes of poverty leading to food insecurity, students require moreaccess to funding. Recent changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP) have resultedin a decrease in funding to both undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to the reductionin OSAP funding, graduate student funding for both international and domestic students iscurrently under review by the School of Graduate studies in order to determine if it providesstudents with enough money to cover all their expenses. Providing adequate funding to studentsPrograms like the People’s Potato Project (Concordia University), and the Queen’s Ban RighCenter’s free soup lunch programs were frequently mentioned in campus partner meetings whendiscussing how to address the gaps on campus related to food insecurity. Providing students withaccessible and healthy food will not solve the issues of food access that are associated with lackof funding and experiences of poverty, but it will mitigate experiences of moderate to severefood insecurity. Providing accessible, healthy food to studentsCommunityStigma and the invisibility of food insecurity on campus were highlighted in campus partnermeetings as barriers to addressing food access on campus. It was also frequently mentioned thatbecause students feel a need to maintain appearances with their peers, students who havedifficulty accessing food may also experience social isolation. Programs must also challengesocietal norms and stigma that surrounds food access at Queen’s. Challenging societal norms and stigmas that surround food insecurityCreating food programming that also creates a sense of belonging among studentsSkill BuildingAlthough budgeting and cooking programs do not address the systemic cause of food insecurity,they do help mitigate some experiences of moderate to severe food insecurity. The Queen’sHealthy Cooking Club has reached maximum capacity for all the classes offered in the 2019/20school year thus far, and the new Fresh Food Boxes from Health Promotion almost sold outwithin the first day of being offered. The popularity of these programs demonstrates that there isa student need for these programs. Offering these classes to the entire student population alsofollows a universal food security approach, where targeted food programs aim to addressuniversal access to food, and do not just target students who are more likely to experience food
12insecurity. These programs also must be mindful that they do not mask the real experiences offood insecure students. Providing students with opportunities to learn how to prepare healthy, affordable mealsfor themselves and their familiesProviding students with effective budgeting and food planning skillsPolicyResearch has demonstrated that being food insecurity affects students’ physical and mentalhealth, their grades, and causes higher stress levels. In recognition of an increasingly diversestudent body, and understanding the systemic causes of food insecurity, these issues must beconsidered as part of overall student wellness strategy. Ensure that food insecurity is considered in the development of key strategic policies andprograms related to studentsRecommendations:The following recommendations are made with the acknowledgement that there is no one-sizefits-all recommendation to address student food insecurity. It is also important to note that manyof these strategies straddle more than one strategic priority area.Education and Awareness Create a student food insecurity committee to monitor and report annually aboutcampus food insecurity. Terms of Reference and membership to be determined. Create and fund a Student Group Food Collective to promote collaboration amongstudent groups and with the student food insecurity committee. Terms of Referenceand membership to be determined. Develop a centralized databank of available resources and programs that address foodinsecurity leading to an enhanced communication strategy to raise awareness of thesesupports and services.Environment Continue to encourage evidence-based programing based on good and emergingpractices:o Programs serving hot, nutritious meals available to students at targeted,specific times (for example during exam season).o Providing free nutritious snacks in high traffic student areas, such as theJDUC, Mitchell Hall, and student facing offices Recommend a review of the model and operations of the AMS Food Bank andsupport it in addressing issues such as hours of operation, accessibility and stigma:o Support resources to increase the number of paid staff vs. a reliance onvolunteerso Support the continued imp
Food Literacy: is a set of attributes including food and nutrition knowledge, food skills, and confidence in food choices. 10 Food literacy contributes to enabling people to make good related 1 Anderson, S. A. (1990). Core indicators of nutritional state for difficult-to- sample populations. J Nutr, 120(11S), 1559-1600. 2