This week we focused on understanding our users and the unique challenges they face while living off campus with respect to food. Each of us interviewed a few OC students, since there is a wide variety in the experiences of off campus students, to better understand their current struggles and perceptions of food insecurity.
Based off of these interviews we were able to develop a user persona of the typical off campus student:
Bob is a junior off campus student who did not get housing at his residential college. Bob is on a reduced meal plan but lacks the time to go grocery shopping or cook during most weeks. Because of this, combined with the fact that Bob has to stay late on campus at night for meetings and he finds himself snacking or eating more junk food available since he does not want to splurge on Sammy’s or Brochstein. While Bob has briefly heard of the on campus food pantry while advising during O-Week he does not feel like he wants to take away from “those who need it” since he can afford food.
From our interviews with students like “Bob”, we were able to develop a list of key insights:
– Rice students do not know that food insecurity goes beyond not being able to afford food to not having the time to eat healthy food or the food that they want to eat.
– Rice students who have the financial means to buy food but are still food insecure believe that the pantry is not for them. This prevents students who might know about the food pantry from utilizing it as a resource.
– A major pain point for off campus students is the lack of affordable, healthy meal options late at night.