The Algonquin College food cupboard says it has been seeing between 15 and 20 students each day as grocery prices continue to rise.
“The food cupboard has definitely seen an increase in buying the necessities like fruit, vegetables and protein,” said Alain Cyr-Russo, a senior manager at the Students’ Association. “The price increase hasn’t stopped us yet, but it has definitely had an impact on us,”
While running the food cupboard can help thousands of students, it is expensive, which is why the food cupboard raises money through funding from the Students’ Association and the Ottawa Food Bank, which helps over 100 food banks across Ottawa and Gatineau.
“We get donations from various departments on campus as well as individuals on campus,” said Cyr-Russo. “We do have Campbell soup bins across campus where students can donate. The two main bins are in E-114 and the ARC.”
Due to food prices rising, the Algonquin food cupboard struggles to receive protein, fruits and vegetables, even though they get donations from the Ottawa Food Bank.
“The food cupboard mission is to actually help any student. In the past, the food cupboard was only available for Level 1 international students, but now it is available to all,” said Cyr-Russo. “We understand every student is in need, no matter where you come from, and we try to make it so that there is food available if someone needs.”
Canada’s grocery costs increased by 5.8 per cent in September 2023, according to Statistics Canada.
Morgan Eastop, a first-year student in radio broadcasting, feels that students will be prioritizing tuition, phone bills and eating cheaper food with no nutritional value over buying proper groceries.
“I believe that people will be using food cupboards because of inflation. Either that or they’ll be buying food that is cheaper and has no nutritional value,” said Eastop. “With how most people are nowadays, food comes last. When I was at Georgian College, people prioritized tuition, WiFi and their phones over groceries.”
In the past two months, the food cupboard changed the process of how students get food by letting them pick and choose what they want. Before, students would get handed soup, protein, fruit and vegetables without being able to choose.
“I think this is a step in the right direction because people have allergies and specific foods they can’t have, so with this, the food cupboard is recognizing that and meeting people’s needs,” said Arlo Gosham-Hamer, a second-year photography student.
The food cupboard is currently collecting coats, hats and glove donations for students who don’t own any for the upcoming winter.