Food and nutrition


Food is important for our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing. What we eat fuels our body, affects our mood, and even impacts how we do in school. Food is social and tied to our identities, cultures, and communities. Sharing a meal with others can nourish our body, mind, and spirit.

Many university students find it challenging to have enough money, time, and energy to make or buy food. Knowledge of how to prepare quick and easy meals or even where to find traditional ingredients are also factors that may affect students’ food choices. It is important to consider the fact that there are also broader social, economic, and political systems and structures that affect students’ access to safe, adequate, personally-acceptable food and care.

Learn more strategies to help you eat well, broaden your food and nutrition knowledge, and access support for food and nutrition-related concerns at UBC.


How can I eat well?

Food provides us with energy and nutrients that help our bodies function. It can be helpful to have a basic understanding of nutrition concepts, including the roles of the different nutrients, how and what to eat, and even how to read food labels.

However, eating well is more than just about food, nutrients and balance. It is important to recognize that there are factors beyond the individual that affect what we eat. Eating healthily is also about where, when, why, and how you eat.

The diversity in the cultures and heritage of UBC students extends to the ways in which we eat and connect with food. There is no single best way to eat healthily—Canada’s Food Guide is just one way of looking at eating well. In sharing this as a resource, we also want to recognize the harms against Indigenous children that Canada’s Food Guide has been complicit in and the limitations in addressing social and cultural considerations to what and how we eat. Traditional or cultural foods may not always be captured in Western perspectives of what is considered healthy eating. However, the sharing and enjoyment of culturally diverse foods with others enhances your relationship with food and is equally important in nourishing yourself.

I have specific dietary needs. Where can I get help?

Everyone’s food choices can look different depending on their specific dietary needs. Whether it’s celiac disease, plant-based eating, food allergies, or religious dietary needs, there are resources to support you.

Below are a few example resources available to UBC students:

  • If you are a varsity athlete, read helpful guides developed by the sport dietitian at UBC Athlete Nutrition.
  • For students looking for Halal foods, the UBC Muslim Student Association created a 2022 Halal Food Guide (pdf).
  • If you live in residence, connect with the dietitian in Residence.
  • For other specific dietary questions, connect with a dietitian near you.

How can I connect with a dietitian?

Dietitians are trained professionals who can help you find strategies to eat well according to your unique dietary needs while considering cultural and food traditions. If you need more support around food and nutrition, dietitians are here to help you in person, over the phone, or online.

  • UBC Residence Dietitian
    If you are a student living in residence, contact the dietitian in residence to discuss a food allergy, intolerance, nutrition-related medical condition, or other concerns.
  • Dietitian Services at HealthLink BC
    If you are a British Columbia resident, you can call 811 (or 711 for the hearing impaired) to speak with a registered dietitian. They are available by phone Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm PT. You do not need a referral from your healthcare provider. You can also find general food and nutrition information online.
  • Find a dietitian in British Columbia
    Search up BC dietitians by their location and specialty areas, or find nutrition experts across Canada through Dietitians of Canada.
  • AMS/GSS Student Health Plan
    All UBC students under the AMS/GSS Student Health Plan can submit claims of $20 per visit to see a dietitian, to a maximum of $400 per policy year. You will need a physician referral to qualify for this health benefit. You can also ask the dietitian if they have a student rate or sliding scale.

I want to learn more about food, nutrition, and explore my relationship with food and body. Where do I start?

We’re building out more resources and programming to support students’ learning around topics about food and nutrition, as well as one’s relationship with food and body.

In the meantime, check out these starting points:

Food security

How do I eat well on a budget?

Browse money-saving strategies to help your food budget last. Below are some ways to get started:

  • Bring your own lunch
    Bringing meals from home is one of the best ways to stretch your food dollars. Stop by the Wellness Centre to pick a new recipe each month, check out these recipes chosen by our friends at UBC REC, or try out one of these UBC Food Services recipes.
  • Plan ahead
    Knowing how to plan your meals and having practical ways to save money before grocery shopping can help you maximize your budget. Buying items in bulk can usually save on costs, so consider connecting with a friend or roommate before you head to the grocery store to save some money. You can also try using money-saving apps, such as Flipp, Flashfood, Checkout 51, and Too Good to Go to help you shop for food.
  • Check out UBC’s low-cost food initiatives
    The UBC Food Hub continues to work hard to share both student-led and university-led low-cost food resources and food security initiatives like the Food Hub Market
  • Support student-led food initiatives ​​​​​
    From September to April, visit student-run cafes like Agora Café and UBC Sprouts for low-cost nutritious options. Sprouts also hosts initiatives like Community Eats, while faculties and student groups organize food-related community events too.

What if I don’t have enough money for food?

Around 15 to 35 percent of UBC students report having challenges accessing safe, adequate, personally-acceptable and nutritious food. Food insecurity disproportionately affects international students, graduate students, queer and trans communities, as well as individuals who identify as Indigenous, Black, or Persons of Colour. You are not alone. Below are some places to get started if you find yourself having to make tough choices around food due to financial barriers.

Learn more about food security as well as food and financial resources through UBC Food Hub.

Cooking and meal planning

I’m new to cooking on my own. Where do I start?

Cooking on your own for the first time can be intimidating. There are many ways to start.

  • Go on a free virtual grocery store tour
    Join UBC nutrition students on a virtual grocery store tour as they teach you how to navigate a grocery store, read labels, and choose foods that fit into your budget.
  • Learn from others
    Attend a food-based workshop on campus with different student clubs and UBC groups, like the UBC Cooking Club.
  • Practice, practice, practice
    Check out tips from the UBC Food Services folks on learning how to cook and read these 5 tips from a fellow student on cooking as a beginner

How can I save time on meal planning and preparation?

Life as a student is busy. Balancing academics along with other responsibilities and aspects of student life can make it hard to find time to put together a nourishing meal. Below are some tips you can try:

  • Have an ongoing grocery list
    A running list on your fridge or phone can help you keep track of the items you need when going to the grocery store. You can categorize these based on where you find the items in the store (e.g., bakery, fruits) to save time and reduce impulsive purchases.
  • Stock up on kitchen staples
    Find which ingredients are staples in your diet and keep them available for when you need to quickly put a meal together. 
  • Order groceries online
    If you don’t have time, order ahead and pick up your groceries in stores. Many grocery stores offer this service for a small fee.
  • Meal prep or batch cook with a friend
    Check out 11 meal prep ideas for tasks you can do ahead of time. Double the portions when you make a meal. Invite your friends and have each person take on a different task at the same time to speed up the process.