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P110 Understanding the Impact of the Opening of a Supermarket on a College Campus on College Students: A Qualitative Study

      Background

      Many college campus areas are food deserts, with limited access to healthy foods. In the Fall of 2018, the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) opened a mix-used development area that includes a full-service grocery store. Little research has focused on the impact of supermarket openings as part of a mixed-used environment. Our team conducted an evaluation of this natural experiment, which included a qualitative study, aiming to understand the impact of this environmental change.

      Objective

      Understand the impact of the opening of a supermarket on food shopping experiences and dietary behaviors of college students using focus groups.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants

      Six focus groups were conducted with students by a moderator, using open-ended questions and probes. Participants were recruited from the quasi-experimental intervention arm of this study and were at least 18 years old, English-speaking, and a UNCG student living in Spartan Village. Focus groups were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and thematically analyzed.

      Measurable Outcome/Analysis

      Overall experiences with, and facilitators and barriers to food shopping and healthy eating at the new supermarket.

      Results

      Overall, students suggested that the mixed-use residence positively influenced dietary intake. Convenience, small store footprint, ability to use university FLEX card, visible produce, and friendly service were perceived as facilitators of healthy eating and shopping. Prices, food acceptability, small-item sizes, limited variety, insufficient stocking, and lack of cooking equipment/tools were identified barriers. Prices decreased staple food purchases, but also deterred snack food item purchases. Nutrition and food preparation education, along with access to cooking equipment were identified as potential supports.

      Conclusions

      Development of mixed-used college residential areas, that includes a full-service grocery store, may present an opportunity to increase access to healthier foods. Consideration of student needs plays a key role in the use of facilities as promoters of dietary intake.
      Funding None.

      Appendix. Supplementary data