The University Student Council (USC) Food Support Center is gearing up for another busy year as the academic year begins for thousands of Western University students.
USC expects an increase in food bank attendance as the cost of rent and groceries continues to rise.
“Students can go to the food bank and pick up whatever they need,” says Bianca Gouveia, vice president of student services, who oversees the food support center.
“We also have our food basket service where students can pick up a food basket to receive five to seven days worth of food.”
The food basket service was launched to provide students with a more confidential way to take advantage of food bank services.
To get a basket, students fill out an online form with all their requests, which will usually be met within 24 hours, according to the Food Support Services webpage. They then have the option of picking it up at the Food Support Center office or in a confidential locker at the University Community Center (UCC).
“This is for those who fear facing the stigma surrounding food insecurity. It is therefore an extremely confidential and private way to receive help.
The food bank reported an increase of more than 50 percent in its use between 2021 and 2022, with more than 1,000 students using the walk-in service and more than 700 basket requests last year.
Gouveia predicts that more people will access the service this year.
“As the cost of living continues to be an issue for students and continues to rise, I am clearly seeing an increase. All summer we have been preparing to be able to continue supporting students who may need this service.
The rising cost of living has hit students particularly hard, with spending on groceries and rents rising rapidly year on year.
“(The cost of living) affects all areas of a student’s life, not just food insecurity, but also many other areas of well-being, which we take into account when offering these services” , said Gouveia.
Gouveia adds that they will not limit the number of students who can access the food bank, saying the food bank is “dedicated to meeting students where they are and supporting them.”
Students can access the food bank, located at UCC, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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