As need grows at the Food Cupboard, community donations make all the difference

When Randy Terpstra last made a trip to Algonquin’s Food Cupboard, the visit demanded he use a rolling cart to carry the mountain of food that students, alumni and members of the art community had brought. Terpstra, a layout and design professor and a graduate of Algonquin’s animation program, saw the need to support the […]
Photo: Katelin Belliveau
Randy Terpstra, layout and design instructor at Algonquin, hosts the Life Drawing Initiative every Friday on campus. Participants bring food items to support the campus Food Cupboard.

When Randy Terpstra last made a trip to Algonquin’s Food Cupboard, the visit demanded he use a rolling cart to carry the mountain of food that students, alumni and members of the art community had brought.

Terpstra, a layout and design professor and a graduate of Algonquin’s animation program, saw the need to support the Food Cupboard as students in his own program were in need. So he started hosting Algonquin’s Life Drawing Initiative – a weekly human form drawing workshop.

Although the workshop is free every Friday evening, Terpstra encourages participants to bring items for the Food Cupboard.

“I thought it was a good opportunity for those folks to contribute to a worthy cause,” he said. “And a cause that is obviously very close to the college and meets the immediate needs of students within the college.”

Jessica Clark, the Food Cupboard’s coordinator, is thankful for frequent donations like this from within from the college community. Students in need continue to send-in monthly food request forms to the Food Cupboard. And since the beginning of 2020, she has noticed a trend: an increase in demand from students with children.

Hidden in the very back of Student Central, the Food Cupboard is filled with cans, bottles and boxes, ready to support students struggling to make ends meet. And the Woodroffe campus location – the only one among three Algonquin campuses that offers fresh and frozen food – is feeling the effects that come with rising costs.

“I can get less food for an amount of money,” Clark said. “I have to watch for sales to stock up to avoid running out.”

Clark, in her second year with the service, also connects the Food Cupboard’s steady demand to province-wide cuts in OSAP funding, high rent costs and students’ struggle to find local jobs.

Along with making sure the shelves are well-stocked to meet the demand, another challenge Clark faces is the balance of raising awareness for the Food Cupboard while keeping the service completely anonymous.

Her hope is that with new information cards and table services promoting the Food Cupboard, students will understand that asking for help is nothing to be embarrassed about.

Terpstra hopes that by continuing the Life Drawing Initiative, he can be part of the Food Cupboard’s growth.

“It’s sort of a win-win-win thing right,” he said. “Because it’s raising awareness to our Life Drawing Initiative, and it’s raising awareness to the Food Cupboard in terms of delivery and also receiving.”

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