Using food-related images to enhance belonging in university staff and students

Hilda Mary Mulrooney, Olga Wojadzis


Food has multiple roles within individuals’ lives, with potential to bridge gaps between different groups and enhance belonging. This project sought to explore through food-related images submitted by staff and students, the themes and values identified, and explore whether taking part enhanced belonging at university. Data were collected using a questionnaire and optional interviews. The questionnaire included demographic information, food-related questions and a link to upload a food-related image. University staff and students were invited to participate by email. A total of 23 staff and 67 students completed questionnaires, and 13 interviews (4 staff and 9 student) were completed. Multiple themes were identified. These included food as an evocation of place, time and people; food in relation to tradition; the use of food to bring people together and to share, and food-related skills such as cooking and growing. Health and wider themes such as the environment and global warming were also highlighted. Demographic and study/work characteristics had little impact on either food-related beliefs and behaviours or sense of belonging at the institution. Participation increased sense of belonging in 39% of staff and 49.3% of student participants; it was not decreased in any.


food; culture; belonging

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