Research interests: Food insecurity, social determinants of health, health inequality, mental health, mixed methods
Program Coordinator, Meal Exchange
MSc, Public Health and Health Systems, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo (2014-2016) (MSc Thesis Summary) (3-Minute Thesis Video)
BA, Social Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, McMaster University (2009-2013)
- 2016: Winner, 3-Minute Thesis Competition, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo (3-Minute Thesis Video)
- 2015: Applied Health Sciences Graduate Experience Award, University of Waterloo
- 2014: Applied Health Sciences Graduate Senate Scholarship, University of Waterloo
Professional Activities and Networks:
- Food Bank Promotions and Advocacy Executive, Federation of Students, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario. (June 2015-Aug. 2016)
- Hot & Spicy Sexual Health Promotion Team Leader, Health Services, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario. (Jan. 2016-April 2016)
- Trick or Eat Coordinator, Federation of Students, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario. (Sept. 2015-Oct. 2015)
Summary of MSc Thesis: Food insecurity among University of Waterloo undergraduate students: Barriers, coping strategies, and perceived health and academic implications
- A mixed methods approach was used to explore perceived barriers and facilitators to food security among University of Waterloo undergraduate students, the strategies used to manage shortages of food and money for food, perceptions regarding implications for health and academic achievement, and suggestions for improving food security for post-secondary students.
- Interviews and surveys were conducted with 14 student participants who provided an indication of compromised food access based on financial constraints in response to a screening questionnaire.
- Both quantity and quality of food were identified as important to students’ food security. Food shortages occurred as a result of shortfalls in finances, despite efforts on the part of students to ensure that they could get by without going hungry. Students also discussed eating cheap or poor quality foods when money was tight. This often happened at the end of the semester as resources ran out.
- Participants spoke of feeling preoccupied with food and with ensuring that they had enough food or money for food. This was on top of other stresses they faced as full-time students.
- Although many students relied on financial support from their families, they indicated a desire to be independent. As a result, accepting support from their families could be an added source of stress, especially when they knew their families had competing expenses.
- Other barriers that complicated food access included foods available both on and off-campus, limited confidence in cooking and budgeting skills, and time pressures.
- Strategies to obtain food or money for food included accessing free meals at campus events, sharing food with friends or family, and finding new opportunities to earn money. Some students used the campus food bank in times of shortages.
- When discussing the implications of disruptions to their food access, students reported that food insecurity contributed to stress and difficulty focussing at school, and also affected them socially by making it difficult to participate in social activities
- Suggestions for improving food security from students included improving financial security by addressing issues such as rising tuition and the adequacy of financial assistance, as well as improving the food environment on campus so that students can access affordable, healthy foods.