AUSU Food Pantry: Addressing Food Insecurity

Maria Lueda Baldia-Torres


Tuition, books, rent, travel expenses… These are probably the common items in a university student’s budget list. What about food? Budgeting for food, for some, can be a real challenge. Statistics Canada on December 16, 2020, reported that as of May 2020, approximately 1 in 7 Canadians were estimated to have inadequate access to food due to financial constraints. It is also estimated that 9.3% of Canadians living in food-insecure households have reportedly accessed free food or meals from a community organization. Food insecurity has been associated with poor diet quality, physical illness, and mental health conditions. With the cost of living on the rise due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation, food insecurity becomes a serious problem especially if it leads to poor academic performance.


The Algoma University Students’ Union (AUSU) Food Pantry addresses this concern. The idea of establishing a food pantry for Algoma University students came into fruition when Food for Thought and The Summit Student Church partnered together in 2006. The Food Pantry officially opened in May 2007 and will be celebrating its 15th year of service soon!



The Sentient interviewed Preeti Dhaliwal, AUSU Food Pantry Coordinator (since May 2021), to know more about this service. Preeti works closely with AUSU Food Pantry Supervisor Marissa Ditoro and AUSU Food Pantry Support Worker, Muskan Sharma.


Tell us about the AUSU Food Pantry.


“The Food Pantry is an emergency food service, serving 40 to 60 students twice per week, Mondays and Wednesdays, from 2-7 pm. Students are catered to by appointment during this 2022 Winter Intake. The Food Pantry is located at The Globe, on the ground floor of Shingwauk Hall, Algoma University, on our Sault Ste. Marie campus. We offer non-perishable food items, fresh produce from the People’s Garden, and meal staples such as rice, potatoes and eggs,” Preeti shares.






To book your appointment, use the QR Code below.



Donors and how to donate.


“Currently, Harvest Algoma is our main donor for grocery items. From time to time, we also receive donations from Algoma University staff and faculty members, our School President Asima C. Vezina, Shingwauk Anishinaabe Student Association (SASA), and AUSU. Anyone who wants to donate is welcome.”


Student Placements and Volunteers at the Food Pantry.


“The AUSU Food Pantry is growing. I am grateful to be a part of the Food Pantry. It gives me pleasure when I fulfill a student’s needs. Their warm smiles give me the motivation to work harder. I am seeing our food shelves growing and I am learning new skills since I joined this wonderful team. We always work on new ideas which will be beneficial to the students. Currently, we are taking in placement students for academic credits, and student volunteers for co-curricular experience and credit.”



To conclude, Algoma University is committed not only to providing the best education but acts to be a part of the solution to the alarming statistics of food insecurity because no student should go hungry. Academic success and overall well-being are always given the utmost priority.


Connect with us. Donations, monetary or in-kind, can be dropped off at the Food Pantry during operating hours, or at the Security Desk near Doors U/Z at the Main SSM campus. Check out AUSU Food Pantry social media link (Instagram) or email at ausufood.pantry@ausu.algomau.ca for feedback and donations.



Reference:

Polsky, J. Y., & Gilmour, H. (2020, December 16). Food insecurity and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistics Canada. Retrieved January 27, 2022, from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2020012/article/00001-eng.htm