Nathan Buchanan, Vice President of Communications, MSVUSU
According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, 1 in 8 households were insecure in 2017-18 – a statistic that remains alarming today. Food security is defined when people have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life (The World Bank, n.d.). Food security remains a major problem worldwide, but when scoping in on the university scene, food security is one of the biggest barriers students face.
According to a 2021 National Student Food Insecurity Report by Meal Exchange, 68.8 per cent of surveyed post-secondary students in Canada had experienced some form of food insecurity – with 60.4 per cent reported that food cost prevented them from eating a well-balanced and nutritious meal. Between food cost inflation, the rising cost of living, and paying university tuition, students are struggling to provide food for themselves and their families.
Cheyenne Hardy is a fourth-year Child and Youth Studies student, and is also the Food Security Volunteer for the Mount Student Food Bank and Captain Crow’s Café, the soup kitchen. Her role helps ensure we recruit, attract, and retain volunteers who too are passionate about making a difference. Cheyenne believes that food is a key contributor to academic success. “The foodbank provides a grocery shopping experience for the Mount community, who would otherwise, not have the same access,” says Hardy. “Food provides nourishment and eating the proper nutrients rejuvenates the body and powers our brain to learn and develop.” The Soup Kitchen Coordinator at the Captain Crows Cafe, Vicky Estrella Garcia, echoes Cheyenne’s sentiments, but adds food brings us together. “Food provides comfort, connection, and magic to our students. It connects us all.” says Garcia. Cheyenne welcomes everyone with open arms to the food bank and our Captain Crows Café.
MSVU Students’ Union President, Katerina Allan, was one of the strong voices in the food security working group that was formed at the onset of the pandemic. She recognized that food security is a real problem that can’t be ignored and pushed to the side. “Our students everyday are dependent on the food bank to get their daily nutrients and vitamins,” says Allan. “It would really mean a lot to both us (the Students’ Union) and them, if they are feeling supported campus-wide.”
MSVU is collaborating with the other ten Atlantic universities on November 29th for #GivingTuesday. #GivingTuesday is a global movement that empowers generosity and philanthropy that transforms your local communities. This collaboration was inspired by the J & W Murphy Foundation, who will donate $4,000 to our food security initiatives. “This time around last year we were serving to about 40 students per week”, says Hardy in the campus-wide #GivingTuesday video. “And because of the donations and the matched funds from the J & W Murphy Foundation we are now able to provide food for about 100 hundred students every week and we want to increase those numbers”. Cheyenne appreciates all the support and donations. “Donations go directly to our services, but the impact of donations goes much further.” When students and their families get to have food in their stomachs, it means one less struggle, one less worry, and frees them to focus more on their studies.”
The “give” in GivingTuesday really makes a different in communities.
Food and winter clothes holiday drive
#GivingTuesday is annually celebrated the first Tuesday after Black Friday. But we ask for donations year-round. That’s why during this holiday season, the MSVU Students' Union will be collaborating with the Community Matters team to launch a campaign that will bring happiness and fortunate to our university campus. From December 5th-16th, we will be setting up holiday bins in areas around campus where students, faculty, and staff can donate food and winter clothes to the food bank. More information will be released soon.
Cheyenne advocates for food security on campuses, because as a student herself, she understands the value food has for maintaining a healthy work-life-balance. That is why a donation would make a difference and go a long way to advance our mission. “A donation to our food bank and Captain Crows Café means you are supporting dreams, goals, and aspirations, and you’re supporting our future leaders.”
Want to make an impact in your community? By supporting our food security initiatives, you are supporting hundreds of students that are dependent on our food security spaces for academic performance and overall wellbeing. Volunteer today by emailing Cheyenne at email@example.com. To learn how you can make a donation, please visit alumni.msvu.ca/givingtuesday.