RCE Greater Portland - 2021

Food Security in Uncertain Times: A Regional College Collaboration
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Food Security in Uncertain Times: A Regional College Collaboration
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Greater Portland
Contributing organization(s) : 
Portland State University
Portland Community College
Reed College
Pacific University
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Name: 
Serena Dressel
Organizational Affiliation: 
Greater Portland Sustainability Education Network
Format of project: 
Webinar
Language of project: 
English
Date of submission:
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Additional resources: 
https://www.pdx.edu/news/psu-participates-national-hunger-and-homelessness-awareness-week-through-discussions-and

https://events.reed.edu/event/food_security_in_uncertain_times
Yes to Equitable Student Success (YESS)
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Local
Geographical & Education Information
Region: 
Americas
Country: 
United States
Location(s): 
Portland, Oregon
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Smith Memorial Student Union, M103
1825 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97201
Ecosystem(s):
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The project is hosted for the economically and racially diverse community stakeholders in the Portland Metro region and surrounding areas that are geographically included in GPSEN’s work, focused around the Willamette and Columbia River basins. These include the Clackamas, Clark, Multnomah, and Washington counties in Oregon State and Washington State.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
This event was designed to address the social and economic challenges of food insecurity and the hunger that many of our students face. These problems are embedded in SDG 1 - No Poverty and SDG 2 - End Hunger.
Contents
Status: 
Completed
Period: 
November, 2020
Rationale: 
This event recognized the pattern of food insecurity that college students are experiencing in the Greater Portland, Oregon region. Food insecurity and basic needs assistance are a demonstrated need in these college populations, with polling of 15% of the college population showing in September 2020 that as much as 60% of students had faced food and housing insecurity. Two terms after the event at that institution it was found that 1 in 4 students were still experiencing housing insecurity, with 76% of students having trouble paying expenses, and 2 in 5 students had experienced housing insecurity (with a response rate of 16%). The purpose of the event was to communicate to college and college audiences what food resources were available across different campuses and institutions in the region, how they differed or compared, how they were adapted during COVID-19 campus closures, and other community resources available. The event also worked to shared a student-determined definition of food insecurity, food justice, and food sovereignty, and the relationship between the three.
Objectives: 
The goal of the event was to communicate to college and college audiences what food resources were available across different campuses and institutions in the region, how they differed or compared, how they were adapted during COVID-19 campus closures, and other community resources available. The event also worked to shared a student-determined definition of food insecurity, food justice, and food sovereignty, and the relationship between the three. A survey was conducted at the end of the event to test understanding of terms and resources, and interest in a continued event series or food justice movement.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
One event was held in a virtual format, with opportunity for question and answer at the end of the event. Four colleges participated in the planning and execution of the event, with each college having one or more representatives from their respective institutions presenting at the event. The four colleges included a public state college, a public community college, and two private colleges.
Size of academic audience: 
47 attendees, 52 survey respondents
Results: 
Attendees for the event came from six regional colleges, one international college, and the Online Hate Prevention Institute. 70% of attendees were students. 38% of attendees had experienced food security in the past or present. Prior to the event there was a medium familiarity with the terms food security, food justice, and food sovereignty. Following the event 80% of attendees felt that food security resources were accessible at their campus or in their surrounding community. Themes that emerged about addressing food insecurity included equity, immediate need and financial stress, and awareness and access issues, as well as issue related to stigma and misunderstanding. Prior to the event only 10% of registrants said they were very familiar with food security resources on their campus.Following the event 70% of participants said that they felt very comfortable utilizing campus resources.
Lessons learned: 
Our original intent for the event was for it to be the first in an ongoing series, leading to more of a food justice collective that would offer more opportunities for dialogue and diving deeper into complex concepts introduced in the first event. Lessons learned include the importance of the role we played as a facilitative network in bringing members from diverse regional institutions together. When we took a pause to focus on re-evaluating and rebranding our college program, we lost momentum and another partner did not volunteer to further facilitate additional regional collaborations around this topic in the interim.
Key messages: 
This event was unique in that it was a youth-led regional collaboration across four higher education institutions to provide a space for food insecurity and basic needs resource promotion. The event aimed to help deconstruct popular words used in food security spaces and to make resources in the Greater Portland community more accessible through providing information about what was available. The event was created in reaction to the vast need for food security and basic needs support for students across campuses, and the shared interests of student leaders in highlighting these resources regionally.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
This event was a pivot point for RCE Greater Portland’s change of focus for the College Network program to re-evaluate how justice is centered in the work of the regional collaborative group. After this event the program was rebranded as the Portland Youth Climate Collective, with a focus on climate action and climate justice.
Funding: 
Portland Community College and Portland State University gift cards for survey participants, Portland Community College, Portland State University, Reed College, and Pacific University Staff Time.

Pictures:

File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon Food Security in Uncertain Times.jpg (146.04 KB) Food Security Webinar Advertisement
Image icon PSU National Hunger.jpg (80.49 KB) Students in Food Pantry at PSU Portland State University
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere 
Direct
SDG 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture 
Direct
Theme
Curriculum Development 
Indirect
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
state: 
Direct
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level 
state: 
Direct