Student Engagement with Community-Based Participatory Food Security Research: Exploring Reflections through Photovoice

Publication: Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
4 June 2020


FoodARC is a research hub for community-based participatory research (CBPR) contributing to healthy, just, and sustainable food systems for all. University students, largely from dietetics programs, are engaged as co-learners and research partners. This study explores the contribution of CBPR to student learning on household food insecurity (HFI) and community food security (CFS) and ways to address these issues through practice. Photovoice, an arts-informed 3-phase participatory research process, was used to take pictures that reflected student experiences and insights regarding CBPR. Through a half-day guided discussion, 5 participants shared and discussed their photos and the meanings behind them with other participants and then collectively analyzed and interpreted common themes. Three overarching themes reflecting student learning and development associated with CBPR experiences were identified: students’ expanded understandings of HFI and CFS as well as potential solutions to address these issues, their modeling of participatory ways of working, and applications to future professional practices. Student understandings about HFI and CFS through the integration of a community-engaged learning environment like CBPR results in important learning and personal and professional development. Learning is enriched and students are able to imagine their roles in addressing these issues through practice.


FoodARC est un centre de recherche participative communautaire (RPC) qui contribue à des systèmes alimentaires sains, durables et équitables pour tous. Des étudiants universitaires, issus en grande partie de programmes de diététique, y participent à titre de co-apprenants et de partenaires de recherche. Cette étude explore la contribution de la RPC à l’apprentissage des étudiants sur l’insécurité alimentaire des ménages (IAM) et la sécurité alimentaire de la communauté (SAC), et les moyens de gérer ces enjeux par l’entremise de la pratique. Photovoice, un processus de recherche participative en 3 phases basé sur les arts, a été utilisé pour prendre des photos qui reflètent les expériences et les points de vue des étudiants concernant la RPC. Au cours d’une discussion assistée d’une demi-journée, 5 participants ont montré leurs photos à d’autres participants et ont discuté avec eux de leur signification, puis ont analysé et interprété collectivement les thèmes communs. Trois thèmes généraux reflétant l’apprentissage et le développement des étudiants en ce qui a trait aux expériences de RPC ont été identifiés : une meilleure compréhension par les étudiants de l’IAM et de la SAC et des solutions potentielles pour gérer ces enjeux; la modélisation de leurs méthodes de travail participatives; et les applications aux futures pratiques professionnelles. La compréhension qu’acquièrent les étudiants à propos de l’IAM et de la SAC grâce à l’intégration d’un environnement d’apprentissage axé sur la communauté tel que la RPC se traduit par des apprentissages importants et par du développement personnel et professionnel. L’apprentissage est enrichi, et les étudiants sont en mesure d’imaginer le rôle qu’ils pourront jouer dans la gestion de ces enjeux par l’intermédiaire de leur pratique.

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Financial support: Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Health Professional Student Research Award.
Conflicts of interest: Three authors were affiliated with FoodARC at the time of the study (PLW as Founding Director, IK as Postdoctoral Fellow, and NP as a student who was supervised for the CIHR funded project by all 3 coauthors).


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Information & Authors


Published In

cover image Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
Volume 81Number 4December 2020
Pages: 210 - 214


Version of record online: 4 June 2020



Nadia Pabani MScAHN
Department of Applied Human Nutrition, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS
Daphne Lordly DEd
Department of Applied Human Nutrition, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS
Irena Knezevic PhD
School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON
Patricia L. Williams PhD
Department of Applied Human Nutrition, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS

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