Student Emergency Fund
Student Emergency Fund
Prior to the onset of COVID-19, a significant percentage of Centennial College students were already struggling to consistently access adequate food and nutrition and maintain safe, stable housing – a direct result of the complex financial pressures that many of our students face.
Nearly 40% of Centennial students live in priority neighbourhoods, and nearly 30% have dependent children. The College also has the highest number of students in the province requiring OSAP funding to support their studies, with 93.5% of students participating in the program – 16% higher than the provincial average.
Since the start of the pandemic, these challenges have been significantly exacerbated and many Centennial students are now in urgent need of targeted financial support to access basic food and housing needs.
A 2019 survey of Centennial students found that food insecurity – a lack of regular access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food – is a major ongoing concern. The survey found that:
- 46% of students had to sacrifice buying healthy foods to afford enough food in 2019
- 42% worry about food running out before they have enough money to buy more
- 38% have skipped meals because there’s not enough money to buy more food
- 12% have used a food bank
This year, many Centennial students have faced job losses, precarious employment and other financial pressures that are compounding their already inadequate access to nutritious food. Community Food Centres Canada estimates that one in seven people in Canada are now struggling with food insecurity, particularly individuals living in priority neighbourhoods.
While Centennial does not record specific data related to the housing needs of students, data from the east Toronto communities in which Centennial campuses are located reveals significant challenges related to housing insecurity and homelessness.
Lack of affordable housing, high rent and purchase prices, inadequate building conditions and insufficient availability of housing support services are among the most pressing issues faced by Scarborough residents. (Scarborough Housing Stabilization Planning Network 2016) Across the Greater Toronto Area as a whole, a 2019 study found that there is no longer a single neighbourhood in the city where a worker earning minimum wage can afford a one-bedroom apartment. (Toronto Foundation 2020) These issues disproportionately impact individuals earning a lower income and living in priority neighbourhoods.
According to a recent report from the City of Toronto, COVID-19 has placed significant strains on individuals already struggling to access safe and affordable housing, with nearly half of all renter households in Toronto having less than a month’s worth of savings available and many homeowners facing unmanageable household debt.
The Student Emergency Fund
In an effort to help address the immediate and urgent needs of Centennial College students facing housing and food-related challenges as a result of COVID-19, the college has launched the Student Emergency Fund.
With a goal to raise $15,000 from Centennial’s community of supporters and alumni, Centennial will run a special campaign during November and December 2020 with a focus on raising funds during Giving Tuesday (December 1).
Students can apply directly for support and will receive assistance through the following means:
Food access: students will receive gift cards for groceries or direct financial support intended to offset food costs.
Housing support: Students experiencing a housing emergency will receive direct financial support for short-term housing, with case management support from the college to identify and access stable ongoing housing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I inquire into, or access, emergency food resources now?
While we continue to work diligently toward our anticipated January 2021 CCSAI Food Bank opening, we know that there is significant current need for food security resources in our Centennial Community. We are working with local food banks and food programs to help Centennial students access food services close to home.
How do I inquire into, or access, emergency housing support now?
If you are a student experiencing an emergency housing situation, or a staff member who’s received a disclosure from a student related to housing / being unhoused, you can explore eligibility for emergency housing by:
- Connecting with your Success Advisor or CALCS counsellor, if you (the student) have/has a pre-existing relationship;
- OR, contacting the Student Experience Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-289-5000 ext. 2499 for general information and/or to access this support.
Show Your Support
Make a gift today!
Your donation will help open the door to a Centennial education, which is a life-changing opportunity.
Centennial’s vision is to transform lives and communities through learning. Thank you for helping us make that vision a reality, one student at a time.