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The Healthy Campus Initiative: A Sustainable Food Literacy Gateway Project

Vanderwoude AA, Frieler B, Harris M, Hayes M, Meyer N
College of Beth-El Nursing and Health Sciences and Dining and Food Services
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, CO

Introduction: The Healthy Campus Initiative (HCI) emerged through UCCS' Dining and Food Services (DFS) transition. HCI aims to offer locally grown, healthy, and environmentally friendly plant-based meals and experiential taste education. Purpose: To assess awareness, understanding, and attitudes toward HCI, UCCS' food service transition, and sustainable food literacy and 2) to describe the healthy campus plant-based initiative. Methods: In this exploratory study, 75 health professionals completed a survey that included various questions related to HCI, healthy and sustainable food definitions, DFS's transition, and a validated sustainable food literacy questionnaire. Literacy scores were compared across descriptives, attitudes and awareness towards DFS and HCI were examined using frequencies, and qualitative theming was performed on healthy and sustainable food definitions. Results: Of the 75 participants [age: 30.5 + 13.2y; gender n=9 (12%) male, n=66 (88%) female, undergraduate student 43 (57.3%), graduate student 15 (20%), faculty 15(20%), staff 2(2.7%)], average food literacy score was 21.7±4.3 (66±13%). Of all respondents, 25% (n=16) achieved a passing score (75%). Few participants connected healthy with sustainable eating, when defining these constructs, but most (76%) had heard of HCI, yet were not able to correctly identify the focus. Those who reported having purchased plant based bowls (n=26; 35%) scored higher on sustainable food literacy (23.2+4.1 vs.19.5+4.8; independent t-test, p=0.005) and reported having visited HCI table, compared with those who did not purchase a bowl (chi-square, p<0.001). Overall, participants were pleased with DFS' aim to incorporate more sustainable food, and 67% (n=48) requested more local food in DFS with most (83%) of them willing to pay up to 10% more for such options. Conclusion: While participants are aware of the HCI and interested in access to more local and sustainable food options on campus, sustainable food literacy was low. Taste education, however, was associated with higher literacy scores, which appeared to support the purchase of healthy and sustainable choices. Thus, there is a need to expand campus food literacy and the amount of local food available in campus dining.

*This poster was presented at the Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN) 32nd Annual Symposium in April 2016 in Portland, OR and won best professional poster

Click here to access the full poster for this research study
(RESEARCH Healthy Campus Gateway Poster Vanderwoude.pdf)


The Sustainability, Wellness, and Learning Initiative: Food Next Door

Frieler B, Smith H, Kluge MA, Harris M, Hayes M, Meyer N
College of Beth-El Nursing and Health Sciences and Dining and Hospitality Services
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, CO

Introduction: Healthy campus initiatives and sustainable food projects are trending on college campuses across the nation; however there is very little research that captures the impact of these programs. Food Next Door (FND), a local food retail venue at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS), was developed as a part of the Sustainability, Wellness, and Learning (SWELL) Initiative with the goal of connecting health and sustainability through local food. Purpose: The primary purpose of this mixed-method study was to describe the overall experiences of consistent FND customers and the impact of the SWELL Initiative. A secondary aim was to evaluate these customers sustainable food literacy. Methods: A purposeful sample of 10 consistent FND customers participated in a 10 question audio-recorded interview (QL) followed by a 41 question online survey (QN) containing descriptive questions and a validated, reliable food literacy survey. The interviews were transcribed verbatim. Significant statements were placed into clusters of meaning to identify themes and subthemes. Mean and standard deviations were calculated for the survey. Results: Three dominant themes emerged from the qualitative analysis: 1) fresh, flavorful food 2) smiling, supportive staff and 3) personal transformation. The positive energy exhibited by FND staff along with their passion and knowledge inspired customers to step outside of their comfort zone, encouraging them to experience new flavors and to see food in a new light, which has impacted their shopping and cooking routines (QL). The average food literacy score for the 10 participants (age: 36.2±16.0 yrs.; gender: 8 female, 2 male) was 25.3± 5.5 (33 possible) with 8 participants scoring above 75%, indicating that consistent customers are primarily food literate (QN). Conclusion: The essence of FND and the impact of the SWELL Initiative provides key information and motives for other Universities and food service establishments to implement similar programs.

*This poster was presented at the 2016 University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Health Science Graduate Reseach Presentation Session

Click here to access the full poster for this research study
(SWELL_FoodNextDoorPoster_FINAL for PRINT_Frieler.pdf)