Spike in demand at University of Calgary Students’ Union Food Bank

SU Campus Food Bank coordinators Adrian Handy and Janice Jiang among dwindling food bank shelves. Photo by Gene Baines.

The Students’ Union Campus Food Bank at the University of Calgary is sounding the alarm after experiencing a huge increase in demand over the last two weeks. 

Between Aug. 1 and Sept. 15, 83 students accessed the SU Campus Food Bank’s services. A 46 per cent increase from the same period in 2018.

“We saw an increase of use over the summer, but we never expected we would be in this kind of need for non-perishable items by mid-September,” said Adrian Handy who, along with Janice Jiang, coordinates the SU Campus Food Bank.

Overall U of Calgary food bank usage up every year

Overall usage is up year-over-year by more than 20 per cent according to the SU, especially among international students. Currently international students at the University can only work on or off campus and for a maximum of 20 hours, a restriction the SU said, shuts them out of most internships and co-op placements. SU President Jessica Revington said that puts international students in a bit of a vicarious situation.

“We know that students face incredible challenges from the moment that they step on campus, and we’re here to support them as best as we can,” she said.

International students now make up over 78 per cent of food bank clients on campus. Revington hopes to see more funding from the provincial government once the budget is tabled on Oct. 24. 

“It’s also our hope that as the provincial budget is rolled out, that post secondary institutions across Alberta, think carefully about how they’re supporting students on campus and how they can set them up to be successful.”

SU hoping surrounding community steps up

In the meantime, the SU is hoping the surrounding community will help donate through monetary donations or non-perishable item donations. There are also a number of food drives coming up around Halloween and Christmas holidays where people can donate.

Each hamper from the SU Food Bank feeds one students for about seven days. Alumni are also eligible for hampers but only within two years after graduating.   

“We’re very proud of the work that we do on campus. We know that these trying economic times, but every donation helps, no matter how big or small,” said Jiang. 

To donate, the wish list of high-demand items can be found at www.su.ucalgary.ca/foodbank.

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