Memorial University students are coming together as food insecurity increases on campus.
Memorial University’s Campus Food Bank announced a temporary closure at the end of October due to a food shortage after an increase in demand, after monthly user numbers doubled since September.
Volunteer Coordinator Matt Pike said the foodbank served over 300 hampers in September, the most hampers they’ve ever served in a month.
“We usually see a pattern where September will be about 150% of August. Then, October and November would be similar to September. This year our September numbers were over double our August numbers, and October was headed to be about triple of August before we closed. We were on track to hitting 500 hampers for October, which is just unprecedented,” said Punit Choubery, President of MUNL’s Foodbank.
According to Pike, the significant increase was unexpected, and shelves started to run bare despite buying extra food for October. The announced closure was to move, restock, and regroup, which garnered much media attention, prompting donations and acts of generosity from the public.
On Halloween, MUNL’s campus food bank received a huge donation from student volunteers who decided to ‘Trick or Eat’ and collect non-perishable food items for the food bank.
Mosaic Campus Church is a collective of post-secondary students, graduate students, and young professionals based on Memorials St. John’s Campus. While the group typically meets in the Breezeway on Sunday nights, as part of their Mosaic Cares initiative, the group was able to help the MUNL Food Bank by going door to door in Kenmount Terrace and Airport Heights for their ‘Trick or Eat’ initiative on Halloween.
They collected a trunk full of non-perishable food bank items and $3,500 in monetary donations.
Mosaic’s Pastor Steve Grimes said Mosaic was honoured to be able to help out the MUNL Food Bank since it is such a crucial part of Memorial’s community and meeting the needs of students.
Student Life and MUNL Food Bank also hosted a Food Drive on Halloween to help with the increasing demands for the food bank’s services.
Choubery said the foodbank had never faced “such unprecedented demand” in its over 25 years of operation and thanked the community and everyone involved.
MUNL’s food bank received $40K in donations and lots of non-perishable food items following media reports of their closure.
Meeting Individual Needs
During the closure, MUNL students also met individual needs after an anonymous student posted in MUN Students Come Together on Facebook if there were any food banks near MUNL or the Avalon Mall an international student could go to after running out of food.
Students immediately started offering the student some of their food items.
In the comments, students offered canned fish, pasta, rice, and more. To remain anonymous, the student asked that people drop the donations behind a door in the tunnels, saying, “anything is accepted, literally anything.”
Students showed up for this student after a photo posted in the Facebook thread pictured twenty canned goods and boxes of rice and cereal.
Food Insecurity on Campus
In 2021, research revealed 56.8% of post-secondary students face food insecurity, meaning they struggle to afford food.
In a recent CBC article, Adam Miller reported that “prices on food purchased from grocery store shelves shot up by 11.4 percent in September — the fastest annual increase in 41 years”.
Many students feel that it is becoming a luxury to eat healthily and as the cost of living and tuition rates rise, many are struggling to keep food on their plates– even though eight out of ten students work while in post-secondary.
If you want to support the Campus Food Bank, please follow the link: https://www.mun.ca/campusfoodbank/donations/.