Does In-Class Food Sharing Improve Well-Being Among Students?

Grant programExploring Well-being in Learning Environments: An Integrated Seminar Series and Grants Program

Grant recipientSarah Walshaw, Department of History

Project team: Research assistant, TBD

Timeframe: October 2019 to July 2020

Funding: $3,500

Course addressed

  • HIST 494 – Honours Seminar
  • FASS 101W – FASSFirst: Food U.

Description: Social connectivity is one of the contributing factors to well-being within learning environments. The purpose of my project is to learn whether using food sharing as a course intervention helps forge social connections among students. I hope students will experience higher well-being, such as social connectivity and positivity of classroom culture, when food sharing is part of seminar course meetings.

Using two seminars, one in which students have already interacted, and one with no history of student connections, I would like to see how food sharing interventions connect students to peer social networks. I hope to establish the ways food sharing in the classroom amplifies feelings of student belonging and connection to others, and possibly other measures of well-being above satisfying nutritional needs.

In these seminars, weekly sign-up sheets for food-sharing will be posted, and students can elect which dates, and which foods, to sign up for. They can also opt out. Time and effort will be made to pair food experienced with classroom themes for that week, but contributions will be accepted and valued regardless of their connection to the curriculum. Students may elect to bring food to match their own presentations in-class, and they can collaborate among themselves. Time will be allotted during the class for food sharing and discussion. Importantly, this is not a graded component of the class.

Questions addressed:

  • How does weekly food sharing impact interpersonal knowledge and connectivity in the classroom?
  • How does food sharing impact social connections across the whole term?
  • How does the preparation and presenting of food reveal students to one another?

Knowledge sharing: I plan to present my project findings at the Department of History’s Teaching Colloquium, and other departments or groups as desired. I will submit an abstract to the Building Connections conference.