There has been a surge in demand for student food banks in Halifax.
Both Mount Saint Vincent and Dalhousie universities are reporting more students are looking for help amid high grocery prices.
At the Mount, food security volunteer coordinator Cheyenne Hardy said the teams at the student food bank have been working on expanding services to keep up with an increase in visits.
She said the teams introduced a soup kitchen and moved away from food boxes in favour of a shop setup.
“So now it’s like a free grocery shopping experience where students can come in and pick out their own food and take it home with them,” Hardy said.
She added limits have been placed on how much students can grab as the food bank sees its highest demand yet — while the number of visits to its new soup kitchen increases each week.
Hardy said students need access to food in order to succeed.
“School is stressful,” Hardy said. “If people can’t focus on their studies because they have to worry about if they’re going to be able to eat food that day, that is a huge problem.”
It’s the same story at Dalhousie University, according to food bank manager Michael Davies-Cole.
“We are open two days a week, Monday and Thursday, and we’re seeing, especially on Thursday, about maybe 30 to 40 per cent more students than we normally would this time of year,” Davies-Cole said.
Students who use the service said people should never be afraid of being judged for using a food bank.
“We roam here and there and we can spend as much time as we want to spend and look up the things that we want and they never judge you,” said Simranpreet Kaur, an MSVU international student. “It’s like a home.”
Fellow student Margaret Waller agreed.
“I think students need to feel like there is no stigma for needing help, especially with the rising cost of food. School is expensive,” Waller said. “We all know that.”
Both food banks expect visits will be up over the next few months. The Mount predicts higher demand heading into exams and the holidays, while Dal expects the numbers will increase once students return from the winter break.