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Preliminary research from a related VCU faculty team indicated that roughly ⅓ of all VCU students experience some level of food insecurity. Inventions to remedy this dire situation will require a more complete picture of the campus food environment. This project documented aspects of that environment. Our research team surveyed vending machines within Monroe Park buildings and facilities, along with nearby corner stores that were easily accessible to the university. Our team employed two instruments from the nationally recognized Nutritional Environment Measure Survey (NEMS), a toolkit created by Penn State University, to determine the nutritional quality of the campus food environment through direct observation. In addition to the NEMS data collection, our research team administered virtual student questionnaires to gauge general usage and attitudes towards food options on campus. VCU students were surveyed between Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic; and our data collection pivoted to incorporate the effects of the pandemic on campus. Findings are compiled in a geospatial map of the Monroe Park campus and surrounding areas. Within the interactive map, vending and corner store options were identified by the NEMS award systems along with their observation notes. Our findings concluded all snack and some beverage machines on campus received no NEMS award due to the lack of healthy options. Our hope in representing the data in a visually informed layout will incite action by the university administration to implement new opportunities to ensure a healthy and balanced food environment for the VCU community.

Publication Date



VCU, food, campus, NEMS, GIS, map, vending, environment, nutrition


Environmental Studies | Food Studies

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

John C. Jones

Is Part Of

VCU Graduate Research Posters

Mapping the VCU Campus Food Environment