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Western University food bank sees massive increase in service requests on campus

Western University’s food bank in London, Ont., is reporting a massive increase in the number of students requesting its services ahead of the winter season. USC Food Support Services

Ahead of the holiday season, Western University’s food bank in London, Ont., is reporting a massive increase in the number of students requesting its services and programs.

“We’re actually seeing close to double [compared to last year] in both our walk-in and hamper service,” said Cameron Cawston, vice president of student support and programming at Western, who oversees the food bank.

First opening its doors in 2009, the Food Support Services program offered and funded by the University’s Student Council is operated entirely by fellow students on campus. The food bank offers a walk-in service as well as a confidential online service — hamper service — that allows students to make a request online and have their order delivered to a designated locker.

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“We’re really paying attention this year and really making sure that we’ve got a close look just because our numbers are increasing so much,” Cawston said.

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She added that one of the causes for the drastic increase in service requests has to do with food insecurity.

“Food insecurity has always been an issue for post-secondary students,” she said. “But with the rise of tuition fees, living costs, and grocery prices, they’re all contributing factors. So, there’s never going to be one key cause, it’s the cumulus factors that are impacting our students.”

However, despite a rise in students using the university’s food bank, donations are still flowing in.

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“We’re super lucky that we’ve been able to kind of pivot some of our events to support our food bank, but it’s always going to come in ups and downs when it comes to donations,” Cawston said. “Donations have been great though, and we’re super lucky that we have such a supportive community, both inside Western and outside, as the London community has definitely been able to support us,

“But it’s really great to see that students are supporting students. That’s the whole goal of the food bank,” she said.

Last week, the London Food Bank sounded the alarm in drawing attention to the growing needs in the community, highlighting that the agency is at a “crossroads” as winter approaches.

“This problem of food insecurity goes way beyond just the Western walls,” Cawston said. “This is something that we’re recognizing and hope that we, as a community in London and beyond, can start to address.”

For more information about Western’s Food Support Services program and where to donate can be found the Western USC store website.

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