Food bank continues to serve a valuable need

Bringing Home The Bacon challenge on throughout February

The phrase "one must eat well in order to learn well," has never been truer than it is today.

Twenty years ago, graduate students at the University of Alberta launched the first campus food bank and today there are more than 70 student food banks nationwide. The University of Lethbridge Students' Union (ULSU) is proud to be the host of one of those food banks.

The issue of starving students comes as a result of a number of factors, including increased tuition rates, a shortage of youth jobs and ever-rising food prices. The reality is that most students rely on some form of financial assistance to supplement their post-secondary educations and all too often they stretch their funds by going without healthy meals.

The ULSU recognizes the financial constraints involved with post-secondary education and offers students both single and family-sized food hampers that are designed to give those in need a healthy alternative to going hungry. However, the food bank is a limited resource, as it is a volunteer-based service that relies completely on donations in order to survive. Events such as the Faculty Food Bank Fundraiser are hosted by the Students' Union to help meet the food bank's needs.

For the month of February, bright pink piggy banks can be spotted in departments throughout the University. Faculty, staff and students are all asked to dig deep and "donate some bacon." The fundraiser entices its contributors by offering a foodie gift basket and snacks delivered to the department that donates the most bacon, metaphorically speaking.

"This year, I thought it would be a good idea to add some incentive to the project by offering a food-based prize," says organizer Brady Schnell, ULSU vice-president Operations and Finance. "Last year, $298 was raised and it is my hope to beat that this year by offering a prize and extending the fundraiser to an entire month."

Schnell says that the demand placed on the campus food bank has increased significantly over the last couple years.

"We provided 154 single hampers and 80 family-sized hampers last year," he says. "This past November we provided 45 hampers in a single month!"

The ULSU supports a number of initiatives that benefit the food bank. Just last month, Schnell was involved in a local food and beverage exhibition where student volunteers received enough donations to fill six food hampers and were also given an additional $200 to go towards supporting the food bank's needs.

Schnell says the demand speaks for itself and he's thankful to everyone in the community and at the University who support the needs of students.

To donate to the food bank, look for the pink piggy banks or visit the ULSU in SU180.