Food security advocacy and activism among post-secondary students: a case study of Lakehead University
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This research project is a case study that explores post-secondary student food insecurity advocacy and activism at one Northern Ontario university. Using a feminist intersectional case study approach, I examine how the identities of student activists influence their activism and advocacy on food insecurity on campus. A focus group with four self-identified student activists was conducted to gain an understanding about their advocacy efforts and activism at Lakehead University. Additionally, four in-depth interviews were conducted with administrators to help understand the context of the campus food environment and to understand the issues and responses from their perspective. Findings suggest that student involvement and experiences with food activism is connected with student identity. Gender, race, class, and student status (i.e., full time or part-time, and domestic or international student) influence student’s ability to take up food activism and advocacy. Although not a large sample of participants, the student activists at Lakehead are passionate about food security, they understand that there is a problem with student poverty, high tuition rates, and settler-colonial legacies. While food activism and advocacy informed by food justice is the focus of many student-led initiatives, charity approaches continue to dominate the wider response to post-secondary student food insecurity on this campus. Although they are challenged by structural barriers to change, student activists develop belonging through relationships and a shared sense of purpose in advocating for change on campus which increases their confidence to pursue activism. This thesis offers insights into student food advocacy and activism on the issue of post-secondary student food insecurity at Lakehead University.