39 per cent of Canadian university students have experienced food insecurity according to a report. At the University of Alberta, every student pays one dollar a year to support the Campus Food Bank as part of their Students’ Union fees.
Cory Hodgson, the executive director of the Campus Food bank, is committed to addressing food insecurity as an issue on the U of A campus. Marjorie Bencz, executive director of the Edmonton Food Bank has been addressing the complex issue of food insecurity in the city of Edmonton for the past 30 years.
“In 2016, over 65,000 different people used the Edmonton food bank hamper program alone,” she said. “People who are food insecure, living in poverty have a lot of pressure in the household.”
Bencz said that people who access the Edmonton’s Food Bank tend to have a fixed amount of money to get by on each month, they must first pay the rent and other fixed costs, and whatever comes up that needs to be paid cuts into the food bill.
“We are in a different community even if students come from lower income backgrounds,” Hodgson said. “It is important to not conflate a low income environment with the university environment, However, there are those same pressures on university students”.
Hodgson said attending university is expensive and difficult. As a result of food insecurity, many students sacrifice their health and mental wellbeing for their education.
“Eating healthy foods will allow you to better succeed because you will have more mental energy.” Hodgson said. “A balanced diet will allow your brain to function at a greater capacity. Students on the UofA campus should not have to worry about food as an issue.”