High demand puts strain on TRUSU Food Bank

Taylor Rocca, Roving Editor  Ω

The shelves are full at the TRU Students’ Union Food Bank, but that hasn’t always been the case.

Jordan Harris, vice president external of the TRU Students’ Union says that the organization works hard to ensure that the shelves are never bare.

Unfortunately, due to high demand there have been times when there is very little to be found within the Food Bank’s doors.

During the TRUSU annual general meeting, Nathan Lane, TRUSU executive director, indicated that students had been turned away from the TRUSU Food Bank due to a lack of resources.

“For a specific period of time in early January we were essentially scrambling to purchase food,” Lane said.

“It is true that we had members that came and had to come back for food. We obviously think that is unacceptable. We’re working to make sure it doesn’t happen.”

Harris says that students on campus use the Food Bank quite regularly and it experiences increased utilization during the month of December as final exams roll around and students become busier.

With student debt putting constant pressure on many post-secondary students across the country, services like the TRUSU Food Bank are becoming increasingly vital to the well-being of students in Canada.

Dr. Maxine Ruvinsky is an associate professor in the department of journalism, communication and new media at TRU.

She couldn’t believe that the shelves at the TRUSU Food Bank had been bare.

“The fact that students are hungry is unacceptable,” Ruvinsky said.

“If people are hungry they don’t need lectures and ideologies. They need food.

“They’re the students’ union, they collect fees and there is no money in the Food Bank?

“Is there something more important than people not being hungry?” said Dr. Ruvinsky.

“I can’t think of one. How are you supposed to study when your stomach is growling?”

In 2010 – 11, TRUSU allocated $2,000 of its nearly $3-million budget towards maintaining the Food Bank.

That allocation is intended to act as a fallback for low periods when donations aren’t coming in as planned, according to Harris.

According to Nathan Lane, executive director of TRUSU, as of Dec. 31, 2011 they had spent approximately $1,000 of that allocated budget.

Despite the $2,000 allocation, there have been periods where the shelves at the Food Bank have been empty.

This leads to the question of whether or not $2,000 is enough money to fund a service that is not only crucial to helping students meet basic needs but is also utilized regularly on the TRU campus.

The Kamloops Trick or Eat event typically helps with a significant donation to the TRUSU Food Bank.

Trick or Eat is a Halloween food bank fundraiser that runs across Canada. In Kamloops, the event raised over $23,000 in food during 2011.

Despite the success, no donation was made to the TRUSU Food Bank as was originally expected.

This occurred due to miscommunication, according to Harris.

It represented a significant loss in expected donations and put strain on the TRUSU Food Bank as a result.

TRUSU has partnered with the campus library and WolfPack Athletics on various events in order to encourage donations and is also working on finding expanded storage space for the Food Bank as a result of the high utilization of the service.

For more information on the TRUSU Food Bank, visit trusu.ca/section/129.