Thumbnail Image

Food culture of the international students at Oklahoma State University

Strawn, Allison
Background: The purpose of this research was to gain a better understanding of international university students and their food ways when they enter the United States and the barriers they face when it comes to accessibility of food from their home country. This study focused on international students at Oklahoma State University.
Objective: Research Question: Does the food culture of Stillwater meet the needs of the international students at Oklahoma State University? Hypothesis: The food culture of Stillwater does meet the needs of the international students at Oklahoma State University.
Design:This was a cohort study. A survey created through Qualtrics (Qualtrics, Provo, UT) was sent out twice during the course of two weeks to identify the shift on food culture the international students face after they migrate to the United States.
Participants/Setting: The participants in this study were international students, freshman to graduate level, from Oklahoma State University. The students were from Africa, Asia, India, and the Middle East. The students completed the survey in their own time from cell phones or computers. The survey was open from April 13th to April 27th.
Statistical Analyses Performed: Statistical analyses were performed through Qualtrics (Qualtrics, Provo, UT), such as chi square, degrees of freedom, and the p-value.
Results: There were 86% of students who agreed that their eating habits have changed since migrating to the United States (p=0.00). Over 68% of the students reported they consume more junk food and meat since coming to the US (p=0.00). Only 9% (p=0.00) of students reported they always cook their meals before coming to the US, while 60% (p=0.00) of the students said they always cooked their own meals after coming to the US. Students also said they eat out more since coming to the United States (63%, p=0.00). More than 50% (p=0.00) of the participants said they have trouble finding food they like, but they also said there was no issue in understanding food choice at stores like Walmart Inc and Sprouts. Participants buy most of their groceries at Walmart Inc (46%, p=0.00). Of the students surveyed, 50% of people said they shop at Walmart Inc for traditional foods, 25% said they shop at Himalayan Grocery Store, 5% said they shop at Crepe Myrtle Asian Market, and 5% said they shop at Sprouts.
Conclusions: Students reported that their diets had changed since migrating to the United States, evidenced by an increase of junk food consumption and a decrease of vegetable consumption. Students tend to cook more and eat out more after migrating to the US. Walmart Inc. appears to be a shopping center that keeps up with the demands of its ever-changing population, specifically for traditional foods from the students' home countries in this study. While students may find it hard to find the food they liked, it is not because they struggled to understand the food available in stores.