Center for Community Engagement

San Diego: A Service-Learning Research Experience Aids Local Neighborhoods in Unearthing Food Security Needs

San Diego

In partnership with local nonprofits, community groups and local farmers, San Diego State students enrolled in Geography 496 utilized their training in social science research to respond to the need for more detailed information on food access and alternative food initiatives impacting residents in three San Diego neighborhoods (City Heights, Southeast San Diego and Little Italy). Working in small teams, students created interview guides, conducted food landscape assessments and conducted interviews with residents. Project titles included, “The Impact of Food Assistance on the Food Landscape of South East San Diego,” “Who do Farmers’ Markets Serve?,” “Food, Community and Justice,” and “Analyzing the Success of Little Italy at Promoting Food Authenticity.” At a culminating event, students presented their reports and raw data to the community and their fellow classmates.

“Carrying out field research on the effects of participation in community gardens on the overall vitality of a community in the San Diego area, it was a comforting and joyous feeling to be able to connect with my immediate community and learn about the potential socioeconomic benefits of working and building social relationships with others in my neighborhood. My work at the community gardens was certainly an empowering experience.”
—Christian Zaragoza, senior Urban Studies major

Read more about service learning at San Diego State.

View campus service-learning projects involving
research empowering communities:
CSU San Bernardino
CSU San Bernardino

Voice of Reflection, an exhibit of the images and thoughts of youth growing up in public housing, was the culminating event of a three-year community-based research project done in collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club of Waterman Gardens and CSU San Bernardino psychology students, under the mentorship of Dr. David Chavez.

San José State University
San José State University

Students created the Campus Alliance for Economic Justice, which met with community, faith and labor leaders to raise San José's minimum wage from $8 to $10 an hour. The coalition raised awareness by phone banking, canvassing and speaking to the media about their own experiences struggling to get by on minimum wage.