COVID-19 pandemic has increased number of food-insecure students in Canada
Oakville, ON. July 13, 2020
Throughout the onset of COVID-19, we ve been working closely with our Atlas agent AMJ Campbell and Meal Exchange on the Good Food Now project which connects students in need throughout the greater Toronto area with healthy and sustainable foods. During this project we are grateful to have been able to help feed hundreds of people who are affected by food insecurities especially during these challenging times. Please continue reading to see the full press release by Meal Exchange or click here.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, thousands of post-secondary students have been affected by food insecurity. We knew before the pandemic that nearly 40 percent of students were food-insecure, and that number has increased significantly over the last several weeks – and the need continues to grow.
Though not part of our regular work at Meal Exchange, we were able to pivot our programming; within a matter of days, hundreds of students had registered for weekly good food boxes to help carry them through the pandemic. We were quick to mobilize to support the delivery of these food boxes thanks to the generous support from the McConnell Foundation and Sobeys. To date, we have offered over 2,000 boxes and supported over 1,400 students across Canada.
Unique partnerships have continued to emerge. First 100km Foods, which was primarily a food distributor to restaurants, shifted their program to offer fresh produce boxes to individuals and families and now post-secondary students.
While the boxes were ready to go, we needed to find a delivery mechanism, and so an incredible partnership was forged with Atlas Van Lines Canada and AMJ Campbell, investing nearly $100,000 in kind to utilize their moving trucks to deliver food support to students.
Though completely outside their general scope of business as well, for the last few months, these exceptional moving companies – Atlas Van Lines Canada and AMJ Campbell – have worked diligently to get boxes of produce to students across the Greater Toronto Area.
The need to continue to offer such supports to students is essential. BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of colour) students are especially vulnerable to food insecurity, as well as international students. Many have limited options when accessing food, employment and secure housing.
International students are in even more dire situations, because they are limited with their employment options. Employment can only be sought out within the field for which they are currently studying – as an example, someone studying hospitality will have limited options in finding jobs within the industry at this time. With no opening of borders in sight, these students don’t have the luxury of returning home, as domestic students may have the option of doing.
The average cost of a good food box is $21 dollars a week. We need your help, and we need your help now. Students are in need, and our goal is to continue to support as many students as possible at this time.
For students in need of support, or for people interested in donating, please visit goodfoodnow.ca.
Farheen Khan is the executive director of Meal Exchange, and has been a community advocate within the anti-poverty and anti-violence sectors for a number of years.