Print Edition: October 16, 2013
This past July, the Student Union Society’s (SUS) advocacy committee began discussing bringing a food bank service to UFV campuses. Now, two months later, it’s becoming a reality.
It officially opens October 25 on the Abbotsford campus, and the food bank will be ready for student use the following Monday. SUS VP academic Kristianne Hendricks explains that the food bank was initially supposed to coincide with the opening of the new student union building (SUB).
“Originally, we had planned to only create a business plan. We hadn’t been intending to open it until the new [SUB] was opened,” she says. “But then we became aware of the fact that the Abbotsford food bank was quite happy to be in partnership with us, and that all we needed to do was provide space.”
Unlike other food bank initiatives, this resource will not involve handing out hampers but rather will allow participants to shop within the stores of available food. The food bank will give students more choice in the food they receive by awarding students various levels of points, depending on their situation and family needs.
“This is not a ‘hamper’ system,” Hendricks notes. “So, if you have food allergies or even dislikes, you’ll still be able to access [the food] and get things that you can use.”
Due to the program being relatively new, the food bank will only be located on the Abbotsford campus. However, Hendricks does not rule out the possibility of this program expanding to the other campuses in the future.
“At this point in time, we don’t have the space to open another location in Chilliwack,” she notes, “but it’s not something that we are not thinking about – it’s just not there yet.”
For Hendricks, this system also holds personal meaning and importance, having been a participant in university food bank programs in the past herself.
“I have used on-campus food banks in the past. The very first time I went it was terrifying. It was a really scary experience,” she says. “But, as soon as I got there, I realized that it was okay, that it was there to help [me]. The [food bank] is meant to help you get through a situation. It’s not a stigma – everybody goes through points of need in their lives.”
Beyond her own personal connection, Hendricks believes that having this service on campus will enhance the overall student body experience.
“University is about synergy, about working together, and about learning from each other,” she explains. “If you’re helping the people that you’re working with, you’re going to benefit … It’s a good thing for everybody to be taken care of.”