Acadia University’s Students’ Union (ASU) officially opened the campus Food Cupboard on February 28, 2018.
Developed as a way to fight food insecurities on campus, this student-led initiative provides emergency food and miscellaneous living supplies such as toilet paper and feminine hygiene products to students. The room also provides nutritional information, dietary support, and budgeting tools to all students. The long-term objectives of the Food Cupboard include enhancing food literacy and nutrition on campus through the use of educational programming including community meals, organizing cooking classes, and hosting workshops.
A committee of students worked with campus stakeholders to develop the Food Cupboard. “We looked at other university models when we were developing the program,” says George Philp, ASU Sustainability Officer. “Seeing how different schools operate allowed us to create the best room possible. While we used others for planning purposes, we really want to hear what Acadia students’ needs are and operate with this in mind.”
The ASU was the recipient of the Chartwells Campus Projects Fund, an annual fund that awards $5,000 each to four post-secondary campuses in Canada for food related social and environmental sustainability initiatives. Laura Miller, Director of Food Services for Chartwells Acadia, and her team also played a large role in helping source, transport, and procure the Food Cupboard’s inventory and capital. Chartwells is Acadia’s campus food supplier.
A 2015 study completed by Acadia sociology professor Dr. Lesley Frank found that financial constraints played a large role in student food insecurity and that 38.1 per cent of Acadia students were dealing with some form of food insecurity whether living on or off campus and that as students continue their studies, they become more likely to report food insecurity as their costs of living change.
“This project doesn't just launch a new student initiative, but it renews the ASU's continued commitment to advancing student wellness and more specifically student food security and nutrition,” says Philp. “The ASU Food Cupboard means that students have more supports. It’s a support to help any student waiting on a student loan or pay check to come in, a support to help students in a rush in between classes and needing a snack, and a support to help all students afford to access post-secondary education.”
The Food Cupboard is located on the second floor (Mezzanine level) of the Students’ Union Building beside the Peer Support Centre. The Food Cupboards hours of operation are: Mondays 3:30-5:30pm, Tuesdays 11:30-1:30pm, and Thursdays 2:00-4:00pm.