Story Arts Centre Tackles Food Insecurity on Campus
The School of Communications, Media, Arts, and Design along with the Centennial College Student Association (CCSAI) have launched a Food Drive in an effort to tackle the issue of food insecurity. Food insecurity, often called food poverty, exists when there is inadequate access to food due to low income and financial limitations. According to Statistics Canada, food insecurity occurs within 1 in 8 households, which amounts to over 4 million Canadians. There are many factors that contribute to food insecurity and the impact on individuals is significant. One’s physical and mental health are greatly impacted, which is why steps need to be in place to help combat it. A survey that was conducted as part of a research paper shows that many students from Centennial, including the Story Arts Centre, are struggling to access food on a regular basis.
A committee of representatives from the CCSAI, faculty, students, administration, staff, and advising have come together to talk about the issues surrounding food insecurity at Centennial, as well as the possible solutions that can hopefully be put in place. Preeti Sharma, Story Arts Centre’s Operations and Student Retention Manager, who is helping to organize this food drive said, “We think [the food drive] is necessary. This issue is much bigger and we are a bit late in the game so we don’t want to wait anymore and want to start right away.”
Gillian Edwards, Media and Technology Facilities Manager at the Story Arts Centre is also an organizer of the food drive and emphasized the importance of this initiative. She says, “If you’re hungry and missing meals, how do you concentrate? How do you feel well? We figured we couldn’t wait. We’ll cooperate with any solution that is offered, but the food drive is suitable in the meantime.”
The bin is on the second floor of the Story Arts Centre, in the main hallway outside the Counselling Services offices. Right now, the committee is conducting a survey to ask students what type of food should be in the bin. Preeti says, “We have a diverse set of students in our school, so a standard approach may not be the best approach. We will be conducting a survey to ask them what they see as being part of the food bank, and we can then use that as part of our shopping list.”
Gillian points out, “For the longest time in Toronto, you’d hear ‘we need peanut butter, diapers, and bread’ but we realized that not everyone eats those types of foods. Some people come from different countries and their staple differs from someone else’s. We want to make sure that we provide items that are going to be consumed… We want to bring in foods that can contribute to someone’s wellbeing.” She also adds, “So everyone benefits, it’s important to remember this is not a snack box. The food that’s in there is to help somebody have breakfast, lunch, or dinner, so it’s not a place for chips and candy. It’s not like people can’t have snacks, but it’s important to avoid any misuse of the box. We encourage foods that will last, like rice or soup or oatmeal.”
The best way for this food drive to succeed is through donations. If you want to drop off goods, even if you’re not a student at the school, you can do so in room 101C. Gillian says they also accept grocery store cards, which will be used to buy groceries based on the student list that will be curated.
The committee is trying to address his issue long-term and is looking at future collaborations with the school of Hospitality.
If you can, please donate! Food insecurity is such a large issue, which is why we all need to do our part in helping to find a solution. With your contribution, you never know who you could be helping.
By Alexandra Few, Communications - Professional Writing student