By Kuhl, Nick on November 7, 2019.
Submitted by the University
Of the many challenges facing post-secondary students, the University of Lethbridge has long worked to make sure food scarcity does not impact their ability to achieve their academic goals.
Bringing together a long-established network of food-related initiatives from across campus, the newly launched Nourish program is the next step in ensuring U of L students are well fed in their pursuit of excellence.
Based on research carried out by Campus Chaplain Erin Phillips and a team of university and college faculty, Nourish connects the dots between existing programs and raises awareness about food scarcity on campus with a goal of increasing access to healthy food for students.
“There is a recognition on campus that food security is an issue and, over the years, a number of initiatives have been created to address our students’ needs,” says Phillips. “The research we’ve done in recent years has clearly demonstrated the need is there and Nourish will help pull all these pieces together into one envelope, allowing us to co-ordinate efforts to reach as many students as possible.”
Phillips and her group conducted a survey that shed light on how pervasive food concerns are to students at the U of L. When asked if students ever ran out of food and didn’t have enough money for more, 19.2 per cent responded with “sometimes” and 7.5 per cent said “often” or “all the time.” As well, 14.8 per cent of students said they had gone a whole day without food because they couldn’t afford any and, of the students who said they hadn’t eaten for a day, 28.2 per cent said that this happened at least once a week or more often.
“These are sobering numbers and something we’re working hard to address,” says Phillips. “What’s also telling is that only 7.4 per cent of students reported having used the ULSU food bank.”
Nourish intends to raise the profile of the Students’ Union Food Bank, as well as the many campus initiatives in place to assist students in need of food. It also looks to raise awareness and further engage the community to find collaborative solutions to meet student need.
Some of the programs already in place to help combat food scarcity include: Buy a Student Breakfast and Dinner for Six (supported by Alumni Relations and the student club PACT); Campus Food Pantry and Campus Care Parcels (supported by Campus Chaplaincy); Food For Thought (supported by Agility); University of Lethbridge Students’ Union Food Bank donations (supported across campus).
“We have a very caring campus community that has shown over the years they are eager to help and, through Nourish, we see the opportunity to bring people and their ideas together to increase our students’ access to healthy food,” says Phillips.
Community has the power to play a vital role in the lives of U of L students and Nourish is a means for the community to come together to address an issue of great importance.