Earlier posts here have discussed how many university students come to class hungry. My university’s student newspaper, The Runner, notes today that almost two out of five “post-secondary students experienced some degree of food insecurity in the past year.”
I did not know until I read today’s article – University Students in Canada Still Struggle with Food Security: “Food insecurity directly affects academic standing in university students,” a study says – that the student association at Kwantlen Polytechnic University has a “food bank” program.
Piper Greekas is the KSA Student Services Manager and currently works with the KSA’s food bank program. She says that she receives 10 to 15 requests for food per week, most of which are from students who use the service on a recurring basis.
The KSA food bank works like this: Students can send a request to the food bank and Greekas and her team start packing all of the food items into bags which are then distributed and placed inside of campus lockers for students to pick up.
The process is done anonymously so that students feel safe and comfortable when asking for food. Greekas says that two food packages can last for up to two weeks.
She explains that some students who apply for the program also have dependents, like children or spouses, who rely on the packages.
Meal Exchange is a program that focuses on helping campuses around Canada with issues regarding food insecurity among post-secondary students.
“Students get involved through our national programs supporting campus kitchens, gardens and farms, food banks, food sovereignty, and food procurement,” their website reads.
Naomi Robert is a research associate and part of the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at KPU. She says that the reasons behind widespread food insecurity are quite complex, but more often than not, they’re tied to poverty.
I will be passing this information along to all of my students, in case they didn’t know about this important initiative already.