Patrick Simpson, Biz/Tech Reporter
Dave Hunsburger used a ladle to pour hot soup into a bowl for a student at Humber College’s LinX Lounge soup bar, something he does hundreds of times a week.
It’s a Pay-What-You-Can service that provides an alternative to the higher priced campus cafeterias and restaurants. And with about 54 per cent of Humber students needing grants to attend school, it’s an affordable option for lunch.
The program — supported by IGNITE that has so far fed about 4,200 people since it opened in the LinX Lounge last fall — remains unclear. The Doug Ford provincial government announced last month it intends to make a number of cuts to post-secondary school funding — including the elimination of free tuition for students coming from low-income families.
And some student union fees — which help fund the soup bar — would be optional.
Ford stated in a fundraising email to party members that the government needs their help to battle radical student unions. “I think we all know what kind of crazy Marxist nonsense student unions get up to. So, we fixed that. Student union fees are now opt-in,” the email read.
The proposed cuts to student fees won’t immediately affect the running of the soup bar, it’s future isn’t clear.
Hunsburger said while he hadn’t heard of the cuts that could affect the operation of the soup bar, he said the program will continue to be in place for the rest of this year.
He said if Humber is forced to make the cut it may impact students’ lives.
“My fear would be that we can’t do this anymore and people would not be eating lunch properly and it would impact real people’s lives,” he said.
However, Hunsburger said that the program will find a way to keep the soup bar going.
The option of having a cheaper alternative at lunch benefits many students, said Hunsburger, one of the managers of the bar. He said the goal of the soup bar is to feed as many people as possible.
He’s been volunteering at the soup bar since it opened and has been a volunteer at the bar’s founding company, Feed it Forward, for about two years.
While the soup bar services about 200 people during the two days a week they’re open, Hunsburger said they’ve had some trouble creating enough awareness among the larger part of Humber’s North campus.
“We’re in a lovely area, the LinX Lounge, but it is out of the way,” he said.
“So I think they’re [IGNITE] trying to improve the signage and I think a couple weeks ago they gave away soup over by the IGNITE office to try and publicize the fact that we exist,” Hunsburger said.
He said in the future they’re thinking of expanding the nonprofit business and possibly start servicing up soup lunches more than two days a week.
Evan Lam, a first-year Recreation and Leisure Services student, said the proposed provincial cuts would affect him because the soup bar is a cheap alternative to the more expensive food on campus.
“I think it would affect me because sometimes I personally don’t like eating on campus because the food is really expensive,” Lam said.
Regina Alcantara, a second-year Behavioral Science student, goes to the soup bar twice a month and said the bar helps out people who are in need.
“Some people they can’t afford lunch and it just helps them get some nutrition,” she said.
Valentina Palacio, a second-year General Arts and Science student, said while she doesn’t use it much anymore, she counted on the service on it as a free lunch last semester.
“I don’t use it as much anymore but last semester it would have affected me because I counted on having a free lunch or a $2 lunch,” Palacio said.
Hunsburger said the program would remain. Somehow.
“If push came to shove we want this to continue,” he said. “We would somehow do what needs to be done to make sure that we don’t go away because of some silly cuts.
“I would give assurance to the people that rely on us for lunch, we’re going to be there,” he said.