FRC News

FRC undergraduate receives honorable mention at 7th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium

Clayton Glazik
7/3/2014  8:00 am

University of Illinois Junior, Amanda Jacobs, received an honorable mention at the campus Undergraduate Research Symposium in April for her presentation on the impact of household food security on parental quality of life. An Earth, Society & Environmental Sustainability major, Jacobs began the research as part of the Family Resiliency Center’s HDFS 494 class.

“The opportunities presented to me by participating in HDFS 494 course have been unparalleled to the rest of my academic experience at Illinois.” Said Jacobs about the unique class.

The 494 course is led by FRC Director Barbara Fiese, an internationally recognized expert on family mealtime and routines. She and her fellow instructors work to provide compelling evidence that food and family is connected in healthy ways. During the year-long course, students gain hands on experience by being part of a research team, they develop a working knowledge of the theory and applications of trans-disciplinary research, and learn real-world professional skills.

Jacobs was particularly inspired by the dedication of Dr. Fiese and other 494 instructors like Meghan Fisher and Kate Speirs. “They are all so kind and helpful and really love what they do,” Jacobs said, “Their dedication to the students and the class really shines through and can be seen in the quality of work that the (494) students produce.”

The idea behind Jacob’s research was to examine if the factor of food insecurity could predict overall quality of life. In other words, Jacobs and her team set out to find if there was a significant relationship between parental quality of life and the level of food security in the home.

The data they collected came from a panel study of 208 low-income parents of school-aged children in Central Illinois during the 2010-2011 school year. These participants filled out quarterly surveys that answered questions about their children who participated or were eligible to participate in a school-based weekend feeding program called the BackPack Program.

When she finishes her degree next year, Jacobs plans to either attend graduate school studying public policy or continue on to law school. Her goal is to help write or influence legislation addressing food security and renewable energy.

“The fact that I can look back on the (494) class and really see how much of a difference I was able to make in my specific project drives me now in not only my career goals, but also in every day academics as well,” said Jacobs.