Post-secondary student use of food banks rises

by | Feb 14, 2014 | News

Adriana Zhang
News Reporter

The newest report released by the Ontario Association of Food Banks reports more and more post-secondary students may be turning to food banks.

“Forty-five per cent of all people who use food banks in Canada live in Ontario,” said Bill Laidlaw, executive director of the Ontario Association of Food Banks.

The report also reveals that more than 370,000 Ontario residents visit food banks monthly.

Among the fastest growing groups of food bank users are post-secondary students, particularly in rural areas, said Laidlaw.

This population only makes up 3.7 per cent of total food bank users in Ontario, but they deserve a special mention, the report stated. The number of students in rural communities indicating loans or scholarships as their primary income has increased up to 1.2 per cent from 0.2 per cent in the last year.

According to the Hunger Report 2013, most post-secondary institutions in Ontario have a food bank or some sort of hunger relief program.

Kay Tracey, vice president of Student Affairs at Humber College, said the Humber Students’ Federation (HSF) food bank is open to all Humber students.

“All they need to do is fill out an online application, and then we’ll meet to figure out their needs,” said Tracey.

Tracey said the food provided by the HSF is only meant to supplement students’ own purchased grocery items.

“A lot of students find it hard to even buy textbooks,” she said. “Having the food bank here relieves some of that stress.”

Students with infants under the age of two may also be able to receive baby formula, food, and diapers, she added.

Tracey said the food bank has been operating many years but many students were unaware.

Last year the HSF began promoting the food bank through social media, promo staff, and at student orientations. Since, Tracey said more students are applying to the HSF food bank due to increased awareness.

Students who want to donate to the HSF food bank can drop off non-perishable food items at the HSF office at North campus.