Amanda Van Slyke – writer
An essential party favour of the holidays may have a new meaning for MacEwan University students this year. At the end of the day, many bundle up and trudge through the snow towards warm meals – while others are left in the cold.
With the cost of tuition, textbooks, rent and bills, food is an expensive necessity that is often overlooked. Even the most frugal students may have to decide between rent for the month and dinner for the night.
Unfortunately, many students are unaware where to turn when they find their refrigerators and wallets empty, leaving them no other choice than to take drastic measures.
“The cheapest thing I’ve ever had for dinner were those five cent candies from the convenient store,” third year professional writing student Kristen Harris said.
But once the candy is finished, the tummy rumbling begins. “I would love to use the food bank,” Harris said. “But I don’t know what is involved in applying or anything like that.”
Often the real issue is not that students don’t know how to receive help – it is the stigma that surrounds the food banks. Students tend to believe that food aid is for someone less fortunate than them, such as homeless people.
But “The food bank is there for any full time MacEwan student that is in need,” Student Food Bank coordinator Noor Mahmood said. “It is . . . there to offer a helping hand to make lives easier and less stressful.”
Mahmood added that this year about 20 students per month from just City Centre Campus are taking advantage of the food bank’s services, so donations are always welcome.
The Student Food Bank is similar to the Edmonton Food Bank, as it provides food hampers full of items such as juice, rice and pasta.
The hamper is intended to last up to three days and also includes a $20 Safeway gift card for fresh items, such as fruit and bread. Donations are supplied in a 24 to 48 hour turnaround time. Contact the food bank for information and request forms at firstname.lastname@example.org or 780-663-3163.
For part-time students or students looking for donations that will stretch up to two weeks, Edmonton’s Food Bank provides a large quantity of food staples.
The city’s food bank also offers items on request, such as pet food and litter, and toiletries. To pick up a hamper, the food bank asks that you call 780-425-2133 and have your driver’s licence or health care number ready.
The Student Resource Centre (SRC) supplies information on places such as the Wecan Food Basket Society, which works to supply fresh items such as chicken, vegetables and fruit for 25 per cent off retail value.
Membership is $5 and pick-up is at various locations in Edmonton on the third Thursday or Friday of the month. For more information, contact 780-413-4525.