NAITSA’s Emergency Food Centre has seen a 100 per cent increase in requests in September compared to last year. According to Jessie Burchnall, the U-Pass and Food Centre Specialist at NAITSA, the Food Centre received 79 food hamper requests in September 2022 compared to 160 requests in September 2023. In just the first two weeks of September, they received over 100 requests from students in need of emergency food hampers.
“It is more concerning with how much increase in demand we’ve seen, so for sure it is something on our minds,” said Burchnall. “We rely on donations, so we really hope that we can get even more now that there’s such a higher demand.”
The Food Centre relies on donations and the staff are concerned about the growing demand from students in emergency situations. “I would love to think positively and hope that it will get better,” said Burchnall. “With the economy in general that we’re in, I don’t know that it’s going to get better right away.”
Burchnall said that although it seems like there’s more traffic on campus this year, there are other factors that could be causing the increase in food hamper requests from students.
“I think everyone just notices how expensive everything is,” she said. With the price of tuition, groceries and rent rising, more students are requesting the hampers, which are targeted at emergency food situations. “The assumption is that you are really in need of a food hamper and it’s an emergency,” Burchnall explained.
The centre accepts donations that include non-perishable food and hygiene items, but monetary donations are especially important.
“Sometimes we might really, really need peanut butter, but we’re just not getting donated peanut butter, for example,” Burchnall explained. “If [the donation] is monetary, then we can use the money to buy exactly the items that we’re lower or lacking in.”
The Food Centre’s hampers are organized based on how many dependents the requesting student has. A zero or one-dependent hamper costs roughly $35, a two-dependent hamper costs roughly $47 and a three-dependent hamper costs roughly $62. Even a $30 donation helps a lot, Burchnall said.
“That’s going to go a pretty long way because that’s one zero or one-dependent hamper, and our hampers are aimed towards fulfilling six days of food.”
While NAITSA accepts donations from staff, students and alumni, anyone can donate to help students who are experiencing emergency food insecurity. “Coming from NAITSA as a whole, we want people to know how far these donations go and how much of a difference it makes for students. It’s all really greatly appreciated if you can help and donate in any way, no matter how big or small.”
Anyone interested in donating to NAITSA’s Emergency Food Centre can drop off unexpired, non-perishable food items at the NAITSA office at room O108, where in-person monetary donations can also be made. The Food Centre also accepts e-transfers addressed to email@example.com.