With mounting cost of living pressures in Australia the scourge of transitional poverty amongst students has prompted the development of a food security project at Swinburne University of Technology, led by students in the School of Health Science’s Master of Dietetic Program. Student dietitians have worked on the project as part of their professional placement, a central feature of Swinburne’s focus on industry-based work experience.

The project has built a coalition across the campus including the Student Union and all Department Chairs in the School of Health Science. It will see the roll out of cooking classes targeting Swinburne students using Swinburne’s state-of-the -art Dietetic kitchen, supermarket tours and the development of a food literacy App that will support both strategies. The intervention will be developed and delivered on an ongoing basis by Nutrition and Dietetic students in the Department of Nursing and Allied Health.

Student Dietitian Amie Smith-Sargent led a group of student dietitians develop the intervention after researching strategy options, consulting with key stakeholders and canvassing capacity to intervene before developing an intervention plan, all part of a professional placement.

“This experience has taught us the significance of collaboration and communication in public health work, and the importance of listening to the target community and tailoring interventions to their specific needs. We learnt about the complexities of food insecurity and its relationship with poor food literacy. We gained skills in developing a comprehensive intervention planning document, and now feel more capable in utilising these new skills in the future as qualified dietitians”. 

As a result of this work an intervention plan has been prepared and a commitment of $5000 made by the Swinburne Student Union to invest in its implementation. Nutrition and Dietetic students will volunteer to work on the intervention implementation starting later in the year, creating opportunities to develop practice-based competencies that end up helping their student peers.