So. I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from my blog over the past month…or three, to figure out what direction this thesis thing is taking. A direction that I am happy to say I have finally figured out.
Last semester, I was fortunate to be under the guidance of a great thesis advisor who really (REALLY) pushed me to figure out what it was that I wanted this thesis to accomplish. After interviewing and surveying a slew of victims, there was finally one that really, truly opened my eyes to an audience that I had not thought about. While I was home over Thanksgiving, I was introduced to a wonderful lady that my mother put me in contact with, we’ll name her Cindy for privacy purposes. Cindy, who majored in engineering in college, is a certified nutritionist who works with a variety of people to help them not only eat better but to lead healthier, happier lives in general. She is also a pilates instructor. When I met with Cindy, she informed me of her own experiences in helping people to eat better, which focused greatly on buying and eating wholesome foods. It was then that we discussed the idea of focusing on college-aged students as opposed to recent graduates new to the work force for reasons that I have included below in the summary.
While my thesis has taken on many faces, at its core, my mission still focuses on getting people to eat better, whether its by creating a smartphone application on simple food prep or an on-campus mobile market, I want to initialize the conversation on the importance of eating good, healthy food and that’s what I plan to do. As my thesis stands now, my mission is to make fresh food easily accessible for college students in order to provide healthier alternatives to junk food.
On today’s college campuses, students are faced with a wide variety of choices from the friends they make to the food they eat. Going away for college is the first significant life changer that a person endures, a time when they are most impressionable to new influences, including where and how to eat.
College is also a time when people establish certain habits, from time management to eating habits to sleeping schedules. How these habits are formed is crucial to a person’s success in both college as well as into adulthood. This is a time when guidance and support need to be present. The goal of Project X* is to provide this guidance and support with regard to student’s eating habits by providing convenient access to nutritious, wholesome food. On most college campuses, little exists outside of the dining hall that offers healthy, nutritious food for students. Rather than trekking back to the campus dining hall between classes, students resort to nearby fast food or convenient stores, which offer cheap foods at high volume, but ultimately provide little nutrition or long-term health benefits. Researchers at Oregon State University surveyed nearly 600 college students, mostly freshmen, about their eating habits and found that most weren’t even eating one serving of fruits or vegetables a day. The survey found that male students consumed more calories from fat and ate less healthy foods overall than did female students. Males averaged about five servings of fruits and vegetables a week, while the females reported only eating four servings a week. Female students also had low fiber intake, while males tended to consume high amounts of fat. Below is an excerpt from the online article about this study:
Cardinal, who is an expert in the psychological and social aspects of health and exercise, said the larger take-away message is that proper eating and nutrition is not integrated enough into our society. He said the surveyed students came from OSU, where healthy options are available in dining halls.“We are not teaching youth how to be self-sustaining,” Cardinal said. “Home economics and nutrition classes have all but disappeared from our schools in the K-12 system. There is a fundamental lack of understanding on how to eat well in a very broad sense.”
This research highlights an opportunity to get onto college campuses and provide students with proper nutrition and nutritional guidance. There appears to be a definite lack of guidance and support when it comes to the eating habits of college students outside of the campus dining hall. The ultimate goal of Project X is to combat the high rate of health issues that current college students are at risk for as well as their future selves. By making healthy and nutritious food more accessible as well as exposing college students to a wider variety of foods, we can help them to make better decisions for themselves inside and outside the college experience.
While the name of my project as well as the aesthetic are still big unknowns, I am excited about this new direction. I had my first class of the semester with my new advisor this afternoon and am excited to start figuring out the front end of this project. Last semester I focused greatly on the backend of the project, including the business plan, competitive analysis, personas, pitches, personas, etc.