Helping students stay hungry for learning

The Campus Food Bank is ramping up for increased demand during the fall semester.

Campus Food Bank executive director Caitlin Phare is expecting higher demand this fall, but is glad that more people are aware of the service.

(Edmonton) With above-average demand in the fall semester and Thanksgiving around the corner, the Campus Food Bank is preparing for a surge of new clients.

“We’ve been seeing spikes both in new registrations and in use consistently since September 2014,” said Caitlin Phare, executive director of the Campus Food Bank. “As the semester goes on, summer funds or student loans run out, and we will see our numbers increase.”

Phare believes there are many factors that have contributed to higher demand: increasing cost of living, lack of momentum in the economy and wages from available summer jobs not covering expenses.

“This year we are seeing students who aren’t able to make ends meet with their summer jobs or aren’t able to find jobs during the summer months,” said Phare.

Typically, the Campus Food Bank prepares around 100 food hampers each month. By September 2015 the food bank had served more than 1,550 people and helped 221 new clients, a 15 per cent increase from December 2014. Phare expects that number to rise even more following midterms.

“We’re not here because something went wrong. We are here because we want to make sure everyone has the nutrition they need to focus and continue their education.” —Caitlin Phare

In preparation, the food bank is finding new ways to serve more clients using limited resources and to keep the Campus Food Bank in people’s minds throughout the year with events such as the Halloween collection drive, Trick-or-trEAT.

“On the one hand, it’s sad because you never want to see those numbers go up,” said Phare. “On the other hand, I’m really glad that people know that we are here and feel comfortable coming to us—and I hope more do, too. We know we’re not reaching everyone yet.”

She thinks that expectations about paying your own way through university contribute to students looking for support from the food bank.

“People forget about the students who work summer jobs to cover their tuition and still have to cover their living costs at the same time,” said Phare.

Under her leadership, the Campus Food Bank aims to spread the message that the food bank exists to ensure no one goes hungry.

“There’s no pride in living on ramen noodles for your entire degree,” said Phare. “We’re not here because something went wrong. We are here because we want to make sure everyone has the nutrition they need to focus and continue their education.”

The Campus Food Bank also accepts donations throughout the year. The non-perishable items needed the most include rice, oats, canned fruits and vegetables.