Alex Gooding (’21 MSPH Candidate, ’19 B.S. Biology) shares about her capstone research project and the support she received from Campbell faculty and staff.
The Public Health program at Campbell University has proven to give me opportunities to work to eliminate local health care disparities and develop educational programs and interventions aimed to improve these disparities. My capstone research project this semester has focused on food insecurity here at Campbell University. In partnership with the Office of Spiritual Life, I created an online survey for both undergraduate and graduate students in order to identify the prevalence of food insecurity at Campbell University, assess the awareness of Campbell’s current campus food pantry, and understand if students would be interested in an “online store”.
In light of the current pandemic, many technological services are being increasingly utilized by colleges and universities to help students maintain their access to care. In order to increase access to food pantries during this time, the idea of the “online store” was brought about, where students can use an online ordering system to select items that they need. Through the development of an online shop, students would be able to obtain affordable food without the need for unnecessary person-to-person contact, especially during the current coronavirus pandemic.
The MSPH program at Campbell is shaping me to lead with purpose and understanding that food insecurity is a public health crisis.
Results from the online survey revealed that students would be interested in using an online shop to obtain food resources that they might need. It is my hope that this current research, which took first steps into addressing food insecurity on Campbell’s campus, will be a segway for continued conversation on how food insecurity has major academic and health-related impacts on college students. I truly believe that pursuing a college education at Campbell University should not have to compete with the right to have consistent access to adequate and nutritious food.
The potential creation of this online shop would not be possible without the support and leadership of Campbell University faculty and staff like Dr. Lillian MacNell and Rev. Faithe Beam. Dr. MacNell and Rev. Beam were influential in helping me identify the barriers that Campbell students face when it comes to food accessibility and also walked alongside me as I had questions and concerns about the potential creation of this new model. It is because of wonderful women in leadership, like Dr. MacNell and Rev. Beam, that I have been able to cultivate opportunities for change.
I have a passion for food and understanding how food shapes who we are as individuals and because of opportunities like my capstone, I have been able to live into this passion. The MSPH program at Campbell is shaping me to lead with purpose and understanding that food insecurity is a public health crisis. Hunger and food insecurity are not seasonal, and as I take my next steps after graduation, I recognize that there is an opportunity to improve food security and wellness among all populations, all the time.