Tricia Thompson is seeing fewer students at the Holland College food bank this year.
The need hasn’t changed, but the college has. With COVID-19 moving many classes online, the Charlottetown campus is quieter now than in past years.
Still, the student services food bank is helping any students it can.
“It’s still being used. We’re still restocking it,” Thompson said. “We’re still going and getting groceries.”
Everyone at student services is involved, though Thompson is the lead. She isn’t sure what the second semester will bring.
“After Christmas, when more students come back, we’ll see what the need is.”
In past years, items like fresh fruit for breakfast would be gone in 30 minutes, she said.
This year, the emphasis is more on non-perishables, especially healthy options, she said.
“It’s a shelf, so we can’t have refrigerated stuff like meat.”
The food bank started as just a small food shelf in the student union office.
“We kind of discussed that there was a greater need for it,” Thompson said.
Eventually, student services took on the project, with funding coming in recent years from Atlantic Canada Credit Union. The bank also takes donations.
“It is an issue every year for sure,” said Josh Vessey, student union manager. “It’s harder to keep a pulse on it this year with us not being around as much and the students not being around as much.”
The union is not directly involved with the food bank, except for funding aid when needed. Still, the union and student services communicate closely to ensure students’ material needs are met, he said.
“Our whole goal is to make sure that anything outside the classroom, whether it’s financial insecurity, counselling, food insecurity, whatever it is — we want to make sure those aren’t the issues that are keeping people from being successful.”
While use is down this year, the impact on students is still important to Vessey.
“I think most people that use it or know about it value it quite a bit.”
Thompson sees it, too
“Usually they’re very, very thankful.”
Over time, student services gets to know the students and their needs, she said.
“Even students will come back sometimes and drop things off themselves."