All posts by Marlee Brownstein

Survey Responses

  1. To which gender identity do you most identify?
    Male 22 28.2%
    Female 55 70.5%
    Gender Variant/Non-Conforming 1 1.3%
    Prefer not to say 0 0%
    Other 0 0%
  2. What is your monthly income?
    <$200 14 17.9%
    $201-$400 20 25.6%
    $401-$600 11 14.1%
    $601-$800 4 5.1%
    $801-$1000 3 3.8%
    $1001+ 2 2.6%
    I do not work/ do not make any income 24 30.8%
  3. What is your total household yearly income (estimate if you are not sure)?
    Less than $30,000 14 17.9%
    $30,000 to $59,999 12 15.4%
    $60,000 to $89,999 18 23.1%
    $90,000 to $199,999 23 29.5%
    $200,000 or more 11 14.1%
  4. Where do you usually buy/get the food you eat during a typical school day?
    Alexis Nihon cafeteria 41 52.6%
    Dawson cafeteria 14 17.9%
    Bring from home 55 70.5%
    Dawson Bake Sales 5 6.4%
    Do not eat during school day 8 10.3%
    Other 4 5.1%
  5. Which of these food and “Sustainable Dawson” initiatives have you heard of?
    Dawson Dining (free vegetarian lunches) 43 55.1%
    One or more of the Dawson Gardens (Bees and Pollinators, Ecological Peace Garden, Edible Rooftop Gardens) 26 33.3%
    Bee Hive Project 14 17.9%
    Biodiversity Zones (Micro-habitats showcasing different types of plants throughout the Dawson grounds) 4 5.1%
    Eco-corner recycling station 8 10.3%
    None 24 30.8%
  6. In the past, have you ever eaten the free vegetarian lunches from Dawson Dining (this does not exist anymore so skip this question if this is your first semester at Dawson)?
    Yes 11 16.9%
    No 54 83.1%
  7. If you have certain dietary restrictions (eg: kosher, halal, allergies), do you find it difficult or easy to obtain appropriate food at/around Dawson? (Skip this question if this does not apply to you)
    Very Difficult: 1 2 8.7%
    2 4 17.4%
    3 6 26.1%
    4 5 21.7%
    Very Easy: 5 6 26.1%
  8. Do you find it is easy or difficult to obtain nutritious food at/around Dawson College during a typical school day?
    Very Difficult: 1 7 9%
    2 15 19.2%
    3 34 43.6%
    4 13 16.7%
    Very Easy: 5 9 11.5%
  9. Do you feel that there are many food options available at/around Dawson?
    Many options 29 37.2%
    Sufficient options 40 51.3%
    Limited options 9 11.5%
    No options 0 0%
  10. Do you feel there are many affordable food options available at/around Dawson?
    Many affordable options 10 13.2%
    Sufficient affordable options 43 56.6%
    Limited affordable options 23 30.3%
    No affordable options 0 0%
  11. Since the beginning of the Fall 2016 semester, how often have you skipped meals or felt you did not eat enough during a typical school week?
    Every school day 3 3.9%
    On average, 4 days of the school week 6 7.8%
    On average, 3 days of the school week 13 16.9%
    On average, 2 days of the school week 20 26%
    On average, 1 day of the school week 20 26%
    Never 15 19.5%
  12. During the Fall 2016 semester, most school days, you have…
    Always had enough of the kinds of foods you wanted to eat. 25 32.5%
    Had enough to eat, but not always the kinds of foods you wanted. 43 55.8%
    Had enough to eat, but never the kinds of foods you wanted to eat. 5 6.5%
    Did not have enough to eat. 4 5.2%
  13. Do you make your own lunches from the food you have at home?
    Every day 20 25.6%
    Often 22 28.2%
    Sometimes 17 21.8%
    Rarely 15 19.2%
    Never 4 5.1%
  14. Do you know how to cook basic foods (e.g. pasta)?
    Yes 68 87.2%
    No 1 1.3%
    Somewhat 9 11.5%

    For the individual responses, please click here: food-security-among-dawson-students-responses-1

Food Security Among Dawson College Students

 

Food security is “a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (FAO 2001). Based on a survey I conducted using a sample of 78 students, I found that the vast majority of Dawson College students are food secure. There are many factors that may influence the food security of Dawson College students, including the location of the school and the students’ household incomes. Nevertheless, there remains a portion of Dawson College students who are food insecure. In addition to analyzing the food security among Dawson College students, this paper explores what can be done to increase the amount of Dawson College students who are food secure, and the initiatives that are already in place.

The purpose of the survey I conducted was to determine if Dawson College students are food secure or food insecure, as well as the factors associated with their food security status. The sample of 78 students included 22 males, 55 females, and one gender non-conforming student. A noteworthy 88.5% of respondents feel there are sufficient or many food options at or around Dawson College. Also, 69.8% of respondents feel there are sufficient or many affordable food options available. Only 5.2% of participants felt they did not have enough to eat most school days during the fall 2016 semester. However, of the 88.3% who felt they had enough to eat most school days, 6.8% never had the kinds of foods they wanted, and only 34.2% always had the kinds of foods they wanted to eat. As for access to nutritious food, the responses were symmetrical. On a scale of very difficult to very easy to obtain nutritious food at or around Dawson College, 28.2% of respondents fell on each side of the scale, and 43.6% of respondents did not find it easy or difficult to obtain nutritious food at or around the college. Hence, these results demonstrate that most Dawson College students meet the requirements of being food secure. However, this sample may not be representative of all Dawson College students as it is only composed of 78 people. There are approximately 8,000 day students and 3,000 evening students attending Dawson College. Also, the questions in the survey may not be the best method of measuring food security. For instance, the response indicating that the respondent finds it difficult to obtain nutritious food at or around Dawson College may not signify food insecurity, but instead an unwillingness to explore the options available to them.

There are many possible reasons that Dawson College students are generally food secure. To start, the school’s location gives students easy access to Alexis Nihon shopping centre’s cafeteria, in addition to options within the school such as the school cafeteria and bake sales. Considering that some students obtain food through a combination of these and other methods, 70.5% usually bring food from home, 52.6% buy food from the Alexis Nihon cafeteria, and 17.9% buy food from the Dawson College cafeteria during a typical school day. Additionally, the survey found that only 17.9% of respondents have yearly household incomes below $30,000. Most Dawson College students do not come from low income households. In fact, 66.7% of respondents have yearly household incomes of at least $60,000. Most of the respondents, 69.2%, are also earning their own money which influences their access to food. Of these students, most earn between $201 to $400 every month. Having cooking knowledge may influence the food security of Dawson College students, as 87.2% believe they know how to cook basic foods. However, this is arguable because the students who do not know how to cook food or only somewhat know how to cook food did not display results showing higher rates of food insecurity than those who do. Lastly, only 23 of the 78 respondents have dietary restrictions (e.g. kosher, halal, allergies). Of these 23 students, only 6 (26.1%) find it difficult or very difficult to obtain appropriate food at or around Dawson College. This shows that students have access to a large variety of food.

Unfortunately, the survey I conducted reveals that some Dawson College students are food insecure. For instance, 54.5% of respondents skip meals or feel they do not eat enough at least two out of five school days per week, and most of these students skip meals or feel this way at least three out of five school days per week in an average week. More than one in ten respondents (11.5%) feel that there are limited food options at and around Dawson College. Also, a significant 30.3% of respondents feel there are limited affordable food options at and around Dawson College. Having access to nutritious food is an important aspect of being food secure. Sadly, 28.2% of respondents find it difficult or very difficult to obtain nutritious food at and around Dawson College. These are only some of the statistics that display the problem of food insecurity that some students are facing.

There are multiple possible explanations for why a portion of Dawson College students are food insecure. For example, nearly a fifth of the respondents (17.9%) have total yearly household incomes of less than $30,000. Also, 30.8% of respondents are not earning any money which makes them dependent on others (usually their parents) for food and money. Interestingly, in a few categories, females demonstrated higher rates of food insecurity than males. Only 4.5% of male respondents feel there are limited food options, compared to 14.5% of female respondents who feel this way (the gender non-conforming student did not fall in this category). Also, 22.7% of male respondents feel there are limited affordable food options, compared to 30.9% of female respondents (the gender non-conforming student also fell in this category). In addition, time management may be a factor of food insecurity, because some students may find it difficult to find the time to go buy food between classes or to prepare a lunch. Only slightly over half of respondents (53.8%) always or often make their own lunches from the food they have at home.

Surprisingly, household income did not have a significant effect on food security among the respondents. The household income categories were divided into five groups: households earning $200,000 or more, households earning $90,000 to $199,999, households earning $60,000 to $89,999, households earning $30,000 to $59,999, and households earning less than $30,000. The mean results for each income category demonstrate that respondents in the $90,000 to $199,999 category find it most difficult to obtain nutritious food, while those in the lowest income category find it easiest to obtain nutritious foods at or near the school. Also, although the lowest income category feel there are the least food options around the college, the second to lowest income category feel there are the most options compared to other respondents. Moreover, the students who tend to skip meals or feel they did not eat enough, most often fell in the highest income category, while those in the second to lowest income category were least likely to skip meals or feel they had not eaten enough during a school day. As expected, respondents in the $90,000 to $199,999 category most often feel there are affordable food options, while respondents in the $30,000 to $59,999 category feel that the affordable options are more limited. Lastly, respondents in the $30,000 to $59,999 income category most often have enough of the foods they want to eat, and those in the lowest income category more often did not have enough to eat or did not have the kinds of foods they wanted. These results demonstrate that having a higher household income does not increase food security among Dawson College students.

Several methods can be used to increase food security among Dawson College students. One possibility is the creation of a group or club whose objective is to build and maintain the Dawson College community’s food security agenda. This type of group can be beneficial in many ways. For example, people can contribute ideas of how to deal with students’ concerns about food insecurity, and their “dialogue forces other people to consider the ideas and opinions of others as they create a vision for the future of their community food system” (McCullum, et al. 190). Likewise, Freudenberg and colleagues conducted research on the Healthy CUNY initiative and found that “policies on… campus food, enrollment of needy students in public food… assistance programs, and a dialogue on the role of health in academic achievement are first steps towards healthier universities” (Freudenberg, et al. 422). Implementing similar policies at Dawson College can help increase food security. Furthermore, Fram and colleagues recommend educating school staff about food insecurity, assessing the students’ risk for food insecurity, “and responding to food insecurity through holistic and strengths-based approaches” (Fram, et al. 231). Essentially, instead of assuming the solution to food insecurity is to provide students with food, the school should consider the causes of the students’ food insecurity.

Presently, Dawson College has some strategies for improving the food security of students. For instance, the edible gardens project takes place on three rooftops at Dawson College. The goal of this project is “to bring fresh, healthy, affordable and locally grown food to the Dawson Community” (“Edible Rooftop Gardens- Dawson Gardens”). Students and staff help manage the edible gardens and learn about gardening in the process. Heynen and colleagues demonstrate the benefit of urban agriculture, explaining that the elimination of distance between producers and consumers of the food increases “freedom,… independence and culture in the food system (Heynen et al. 307). In the past, some of this produce was distributed to Dawson College students through a program called Dawson Dining. This program supplied Dawson College students with free vegetarian lunches three days of the week. Unfortunately, this program does not exist anymore. The results of the survey I conducted show that this program was not very popular among students. Only 16.9% of respondents (who attended the school when Dawson Dining existed) have ever eaten one of their lunches. Also, only 55.1% of respondents have heard of Dawson Dining. Perhaps the food was not enjoyable or the program was not promoted well. Other schools in Montreal have shown that similar initiatives can flourish. A great example is Concordia University’s People’s Potato, which offers free vegan meals every school day.

Ultimately, Dawson College students are predominately food secure, but there are some students who are food insecure. Through different approaches, hopefully the amount of food insecure students can decrease. At a school of students surrounded by multiple food options they can afford, it is easy to forget that food insecurity is a problem. The fact that most Dawson College students are food secure should not prevent people from addressing food insecurity on campus, because it is an issue that some students face. Initiatives like the edible gardens are first steps to improving this issue, but there are many other steps that can be taken in the future.

To view the detailed results of the survey, please click here.

Works Cited

“Edible Rooftop Gardens – Dawson Gardens”. Dawsoncollege.qc.ca. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). 2010. “Hunger.” <fao.org/hunger/en>

Fram, Maryah Stella, et al. “Roles For Schools And School Social Workers In Improving Child Food Security.” Children & Schools36.4 (2014): 231-239. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Freudenberg, Nicholas, et al. “Promoting The Health Of Young Adults In Urban Public Universities: A Case Study From City University Of New York.” Journal Of American College Health 61.7 (2013): 422-430. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Heynen, Nik, Hilda E. Kurtz, and Amy Trauger. “Food Justice, Hunger And The City.” Geography Compass 6.5 (2012): 304-311. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Mccullum, Christine, et al. “Agenda Setting Within A Community-Based Food Security Planning Process: The Influence Of Power.” Journal Of Nutrition Education & Behavior 35.4 (2003): 189. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Benefits of Vegan and Vegetarian Diets

Vegan and vegetarian diets have incredible benefits, not only for the individual, but for the entire world. A vegetarian diet does not include any animals, meaning meat, fish, and poultry are all excluded from the diet. A vegan follows these guidelines, and does not eat any animal products and by-products such as honey, eggs, milk, and yogurt. These diets are better for the environment, healthier for the individual, and more ethical because of the avoidance of suffering and slaughter of animals.

First, a change of diet can have a positive impact on the state of the environment. “Consumers… are asking for more meat” (Baroni, Cenci, Tettamanti, and Berati 285). Because of the increasing demand, livestock production has increased, and there is a higher need for crops to feed these animals. EU Commission data shows that “Europe can grow enough vegetable proteins to feed all its inhabitants, but not all its farm animals” (Baroni, et al. 284). One in every three people in the world are malnourished according to the World Health Organization, and meat production is not a valuable use of land. Raising animals for food contributes to deforestation, water scarcity, and pollution. For example, “every year 17 million hectares of rainforests are destroyed”, mostly to make space for animal agriculture (Baroni, et al. 284). Also, animal agriculture not only pollutes water, but uses more water than plant production. “Cattle feed on grains; even those which are left to graze need much more water than is necessary to grow cereals” (Baroni, et al. 285). Animal agriculture accounts for 70% of the planet’s freshwater consumption. Baroni and colleagues demonstrate in their study “Evaluating the environmental impact of various dietary patterns combined with different food production systems” that vegetarian and vegan diets can help preserve environmental resources and reduce worldwide hunger.

Additionally, there are many health benefits associated with veganism and vegetarianism. In Girgis’ article “The Reasons for Consuming a Vegetarian Diet in Lebanon and the Survey of its Health Impacts,” she explains that a varied vegetarian diet generally “provides more strength and endurance than a modern meat and sugar diet” (11). According to Girgis, an individual who excludes animals from their diet is less likely to be affected by certain ailments, such as diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, and heart disease (4). Girgis also discusses some common concerns about following strict vegetarian diets, for example, the possibility of lacking protein, vitamin B12, iron, and other nutrients. However, there are many alternatives to meat that contain these nutrients. For example, beans, nuts, tofu, and chickpeas are some of the many vegetarian sources of protein (Girgis 11).

Lastly, it is important to realize the conditions that animals in factory farms endure. Animals in factory farms are killed at very young ages, ending their lives much earlier than their life expectancy. They are subjected to horrible conditions including having no space to move, getting debeaked and put in battery cages in the case of birds, getting their tails cut off (without pain killers) in the case of pigs, being constantly impregnated in the case of cows, and the brutality goes on. Peter Singer’s book, Animal Liberation explains these terrible conditions in detail. There are also many documentaries that demonstrate the techniques used by factory farms, such as Earthlings. Some may argue that it is ethical to eat animals raised in family farms or humane farms. However, with access to so many alternatives, there is no reason to put animals through more suffering than absolutely necessary. These farms may raise animals in better conditions, but unethical techniques are still used in these places and it is nearly impossible to kill animals on a wide scale without causing pain.

 

 

Works Cited:

Baroni, L., et al. “Evaluating The Environmental Impact Of Various Dietary Patterns Combined With Different Food Production Systems.” European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition 61.2 (2007): 279-286. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

Girgis, Evelyne M. “The Reasons For Consuming A Vegetarian Diet In Lebanon And The Survey Of Its Health Impacts.” Middle East Journal Of Family Medicine 13.1 (2015): 4-14. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. Print.

The Hive Café and Silk Screening

As part of Concordia University’s “Bite Me” week, we attended a conference at The Hive Café where we were taught how to Silk screen. Silk screening is a printmaking method which is used to print designs onto materials such as t-shirts and posters. However, before learning how to silk screen, two of the Concordia students involved in running the café explained what a solidarity Co-op café is and what the goals of the Hive Café are. In a Solidarity Cooperative, there are three different membership categories: user-members, worker-members, and community-members. This model exists to allow all members to be involved in decisions regarding the café. These groups work together to make sure the goals of the Co-op are reached, including maintaining financial sustainability, and following the values of the Hive Café. The Hive Café aims to provide clients with affordable, ethically sourced food using sustainable practices. Also, the Hive is meant to be a creative and inclusive space that people are encouraged to use even if they do not purchase anything. After learning about the café, we were very excited to take part in the Silk screening workshop. Silk screening is a long process and many materials are used to perform it.

Materials:

  • emulsion kit
  • acetate with a design
  • a pair of scissors to cut the material
  • green or clear tape
  • textile
  • a screen
  • squeegee

Steps:

  1. Before beginning, you must wash the screen.
  2. Place the fabric you want to use on a table and even it out.
  3. In a dark room, use the squeegee to coat the screen with emulsion. Make sure to use enough emulsion and remove any excess.
  4. Place the acetate on the outside of the screen and tape it in place.
  5. Place the screen in direct light to expose the emulsion.
  6. Remove the acetate and wash the screen in a sink. When you hold the screen up, you should now see the design.
  7. Once the screen has dried, place ink on the screen and spread the ink using the squeegee.
  8. Carefully press the screen down onto your fabric and then remove. Your design should now be printed on the fabric.

If the emulsion does not dry, it can be used a couple of times. Let your fabric dry and enjoy!

Chocolate-Chip Banana Cookies

These cookies are fast and easy to make, and are a delicious treat! They are easiest to make in a food processor, but you can also mash up the banana and then whisk the ingredients together in a bowl.

20161016_214019

Ingredients:

Makes about 3 dozen

  • 1/3 cups of margarine
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1.25 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Process margarine, sugars, egg, and vanilla for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary.
  2. While the machine is running, drop in the banana and process until blended.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and process until the flour disappears, using quick on/off turns.
  4. The dough should be very soft, like a thick cake batter. Mix the chocolate chips into the batter.
  5. Drop teaspoon sized scoops of the batter onto greased cookie sheets.
  6. Bake at 400oF for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden.

The cookie dough is so delicious that you may be tempted to lick the bowl clean!20161016_214029

Vegucated

vegucated

Vegucated, a documentary written and directed by Marisa Miller Wolfson, follows the journey of three individuals as they attempt to learn about veganism and adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Tesla, Brian, and Ellen have three common motivations for joining this project: to lose weight, look good, and feel healthy. In the film, Wolfson teaches the three meat-loving New Yorkers about many reasons people decide to become vegan, including the ethical, environmental, and health benefits, in hopes that they will decide to maintain a vegan lifestyle. Wolfson demonstrates many vegan food options by taking the new vegans to a health food store and showing them many alternatives to the foods they are used to eating, as well as eating at ordinary restaurants and vegan restaurants. Throughout the six weeks, the group is involved in many learning experiences including attending a vegan conference, visiting a family farm and a farm animal sanctuary, sneaking into a factory farm, and watching a documentary about factory farming. Each member is faced with multiple difficulties while they try to follow a vegan diet, for example, they go on family vacations where they must explain their new lifestyles to their families and continue to eat vegan foods without guidance from Wolfson.

Overall, this documentary gives viewers a fantastic overview of the benefits of veganism, as well as the problems of the meat and dairy industries. The three group members are very relatable, because they originally follow a typical North American diet, and they begin the project with little knowledge of veganism, soon realizing how unaware they are about the production of the food they eat. Unfortunately, the movie did not well-inform viewers about the nutritional advantages and disadvantages of not consuming animal products, for example, the greater difficulty to include vitamin B12 in a vegan diet. This is one of the issues that demonstrate the bias in the film as it did not illustrate many drawbacks of a vegan diet. This film is useful for people who are considering a vegan or vegetarian diet, or simply want to learn about veganism.