Laurier FoodBank Spotlight
Offered on both campuses at Wilfrid Laurier University the Laurier Food Bank provides a complimentary parcel service for all Undergraduate students that can be requested and available for pick up within a quick turnaround. This service is here to support the dietary and nutritional needs of Laurier students. All dietary restrictions can be accommodated, and food packages typically last up to a week or more. There is NO financial need required for this service but it is limited to 3 parcels/term (Waterloo) or 5 parcels/terms (Brantford). It is available year round. We were able to talk to one of their members Acqueel and learn more about his role and the Food Bank.
(Questions and answers have been lightly edited for clarity)
Food Fight (FF): Can you briefly explain your role with the Laurier Food Bank?
Laurier Food Bank (LFB): I am the coordination of the Laurier Food Bank on the Waterloo campus. I am responsible for organizing events and make sure the Laurier Food Banks as a whole works together. In first year, I was involved in the First Year Project with the Student's Union. I wanted to be more involved in the Student’s Union so I applied for a position with the Food Bank, eventually I moved my way up to where I am now.
FF: What is the mission for the Laurier Food Bank?
LFB: Our mission is to provide a service to students no matter what the circumstances are.
FF: Can you expand on the Parcel program?
LFB: We provide food parcels that are available to all students recently we have expanded our offering to allow students to request 5 parcels per semester, up from 3 in previous years. This is due to some of the additional burdens students have been under due to COVID-19 and we wanted to expand our service and this was the right time to do it. We also have expanded the products that are in the parcels to include personal hygiene items. We want to reinforce that these parcels are available to everyone, you do not need to be experiencing financial hardship to be eligible for a parcel.
FF: What events do you typically have?
LFB: We have run a Boar Heads dinner every year around Thanksgiving. In past years we would have it in person and it was free, but this past year due to the pandemic we still ran it but it was only takeout. We have started providing seasonal recipe kits that include both the recipe and the ingredients. In tandem with this we have videos showing people how to make each recipe. We thought this was a good way to connect with people during quarantine.
FF: What have been some of the biggest challenges since you have been involved with the Food Bank?
LFB: We want to increase the involvement of general members, which has been difficult during the pandemic, as there are less on campus responsibilities right now, meaning there is less for our general members to do. We have tried to increase the involvement within both the Student’s Union and the Food Bank.
FF: What are the Food Bank’s overall goals?
LFB: As mentioned previously, we just want to really increase our messaging about the Food Bank and make sure people are aware that it is truly for everyone. We also want to increase the number of parcels per semester from 3 to 5 permanently on the Waterloo campus. On the Brantford campus we have always been able to provide 5 parcels a semester to students because of the smaller student population, but we want to have the ability to offer that same service on the Waterloo campus not just during the pandemic. We also would like to set up members for more success and not only through the Food Bank, but Student’s Union as a whole we want to engage with the whole student community.
FF: How has COVID impacted you?
LFB: Packing parcels was more difficult due to the pandemic because we had to follow all safety protocols. We experienced a temporary shutdown because due to lockdown restrictions our general members were not allowed to pack the parcels. Our hope is that as more restrictions are lifted our members can be more involved. At the start of the year there were not a ton of requests for parcels, but as the year has progressed it has definitely ramped up. We think this had to do with the increased need for parcels combined with the increase in parcel allotment. We also started expanding our service outside of Waterloo because more students are going back to their hometowns due to the pandemic. With less people on campus, they can fill out an online form and we will order food for them through a grocery delivery service. This is only for special circumstances, but is something we have started doing more of.
FF: Is there anything else you would like to promote?
LFB: To name a few the First Year Project, EcoHawks, A-Team, and the several other student’s union clubs that you can join to improve your university experience. Get involved you won’t regret it!
FF: Thank you for your time and I enjoyed learning more about the great things the Laurier Food Bank is doing.
Please check them out on their website and social media below: