Sustainability News from your Student Union
Charlotte McEwen, Sustainability Coordinator
Since opening in 1992, the LUSU Food Bank has provided emergency relief to hundreds of students each month. Dedicated volunteers have worked to keep the Food Bank open over the last twenty-five years, despite often having limited funding and resources.
Students can access the Food Bank once every 30 days to take one bag of food, and students with dependents can access the Food Bank twice in the 30-day period or take two bags of food at once. If in need, students can also apply for extra support through the Food Bank Coordinator, Rob Strachan.
Last year, Meal Exchange released a report on student hunger across Canada. Lakehead University was declared the most food insecure campus in Canada, with nearly half of students experiencing some form of food insecurity (Meal Exchange Hunger Report, 2016). This report’s findings are reflected in Food Bank attendance: last year, the LUSU Food Bank served more than 2,000 students.
The LUSU Food Bank coordinator, Rob Strachan, recognizes that Food Banks are not a permanent solution for food insecurity, stating: “the LUSU Food Bank is an essential feature of the student movement—we absolutely need to support every student to make sure that everyone has food to put on the table. However, it’s important to recognize that emergency relief doesn’t address the long-term reality of food insecurity in our community. We will continue to advocate for a more food secure campus, in every way possible.”
To address food insecurity on campus, the LUSU Food Bank has become a resource centre, encouraging advocacy and providing education. Recent efforts include the creation of the Lakehead Food Insecurity Committee, which provided a platform for collaboration between Lakehead University and the LUSU Food Bank and increased support for the Greenhouse and Garden projects which grow fresh produce for the Food Bank throughout the year. On October 5th, Strachan has arranged for Registered Dieticians from the Thunder Bay District Health Unit to come to Lakehead campus to provide healthy eating demonstrations and meet with students. “We’ll be in the Agora from 11:30-12:30,” says Strachan, “it’ll be a delicious learning opportunity.”
The Food Bank’s shelves are bare at this time of year, awaiting Trick or Eat, the Food Bank’s largest annual fundraiser and food drive. Last year, more than 100 volunteers collected more than 5,000 food items. If you can volunteer, you are encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or respond to advertisements and communications beginning October 1st.
The Food Bank has recently moved, and is now located in University Centre 2014 B. On October 16th, all LUSU centres will have free food for students and the Food Bank will be giving away cupcakes to celebrate World Food Day. Strachan would like to say “thank you to every advocate, volunteer, and educator who helped us make it to 25 years. We couldn’t have done it without you.”