ABOVE WATCH: Saint Mary’s University recently set up a food bank for students, while Dalhousie has been operating one for years. Global’s Ray Bradshaw has a look.
HALIFAX – As the new school year draws near, finding enough money for food is becoming a growing concern for an increasing number students.
Saint Mary’s University recently set up a food bank for students to try to meet that need. Dalhousie University has been operating a food bank since 2003, and supplies roughly $15,000 worth of food annually to students. This year, they’re busier than ever.
“In recent years we’ve seen an average of 160 students using the food bank per month,” said John Hutton, Vice President of the Dalhousie Student Union. “In recent months, this has actually increased to 200 per month and it’s held steady over the summer, which is actually pretty alarming.”
Michaela Sam, the Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students for Nova Scotia, said the use of food banks by students is increasing right across the province and the country. “The reality now is many students are having to choose whether or not to pay their tuition costs or pay to eat during the school year and throughout the summer,” said Sam.
Hutton said the use of the Dalhousie food bank usually rises near the end of semesters as student loan packages dry up. “We also noticed the most common users of the food banks are international students who notably pay double tuition fees,” said Hutton. “We also noticed students who have kids, have found their students loan packages are no where near adequate, and they tend to use the food bank more as well.”
Sam said governments on all levels should take note and do something about rising tuition fees. “The numbers of users and the number of food banks should really serve as a call to action on government to recognize that the policy decisions to raise tuition fees or to de-regulate tuition fees in this province is a huge problem and it’s going to have long lasting ramifications for students,” said Sam.
Hutton added, “The provincial government is trying to raise tuition fees substantially, which will only mean more students using food banks.”
Both Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s get some food from Feed Nova Scotia, but more is needed. Food and montetary donations are being accepted at Dalhousie. The university sity, which supplies about 15-thousand dollars worth of food annually, to students.