Three Westmont students have presented their research about the availability and quality of food in the West Side of Santa Barbara to more than two dozen community members of the Westside Impact Group and Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. Kaitlynn Durham, Hailey Harper and Carly Richardson, students in Food Systems and Global Health, a course taught by Cynthia Toms, director of global education, visited pantry distribution sites and areas where community members congregated. The findings, the second of a two-year study, were the culmination of a community-based research project between Toms’ Food Systems class and the Foodbank of SBC. Last year, three Westmont students participated in a similar community research project examining food access within the West Side and comparing grocery stores. “We recognize that the students’ research is just a starting point for community collaboration,” Toms says. “We hope future Westmont students will conduct further research to help local organizations better address food and resource access on the West Side.”
The findings confirmed that the area doesn’t qualify as a food desert according to the standards of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Participants receiving free food distribution were satisfied with food availability and quality. But many would like to see more fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other health and nutritional education in the local community.
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