By Jensen, Randy on March 26, 2020.
With support of the campus chaplaincy, local churches, Save-on-Foods and the university community, the University of Lethbridge’s annual Spring Campus Care Parcel campaign brought much-needed food aid to students on Wednesday who are lacking food security during these challenging times.
This was the campus chaplaincy’s 17th year delivering the care packages, but Erin Phillips of the Ecumenical Campus Ministry felt the need was even more acute this year in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.
“A lot of students can’t get to the grocery store, and if they do there are a lot of things just not there,” stated Phillips.
About 200 bags of groceries were distributed on Wednesday afternoon. Phillips said the COVID-19 crisis forced her and other fellow organizers to rethink how they should distribute the campus care parcels this year.
“We usually do it as a first-come, first-serve in the Atrium, but this year we targeted students who we thought would likely be in greater need,” she explained. “And we put the word out through some of our starving student networks, and we hope we have gotten it to the students who most needed it.”
To maintain proper social distance students were asked to call in and arrange to have the groceries delivered curbside outside of Anderson Hall by a small number of volunteers instead of coming into a common area together to pick up the groceries themselves.
Cancelling the event wasn’t really an option, said Phillips, given the social uncertainties of the moment and the fact the groceries were already purchased weeks ago before the crisis hit home for many Lethbridge residents.
“We have been doing a study of poverty on the university campus for the last couple of years, and about a quarter of our students are food insecure to some degree,” she explained. “And, of course, now that’s accentuated. We always have the need. It is just this year it is more acute, I think.”
The Ecumenical Campus Ministry and Student Support Services are also ensuring those students remaining in dorms were also being looked after as the coronavirus outbreak continues.
“International students who couldn’t leave, or other students who had no place to go were allowed to stay, and we will be doing some ongoing support there to make sure they are looked after,” confirmed Phillips.
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