The truth is out: as Maclean’s has reported, 4 in 10 Canadian university students lack food security.
While it’s hard to imagine putting work on hold to pursue a post secondary education without adequate food security, this problem extends beyond universities.
In fact, according to The Canadian Journal of Public Health, Nova Scotia and Halifax have the highest rates of food insecurity in the country.
It is because of the pressing relevance of the issue of food insecurity that I’m taking a moment to step away from budgeting hacks to address food bank availability. In spite of the aforementioned statistics there seems to be a level of stigmatization and reservation surrounding food bank usage. All too often people feel that if they are working (even if they are underemployed, making less than a living wage, or supporting dependents) they are somehow unqualified to access the food bank; far too many students believe that simply because they’ve forked over tuition or textbook money, or treated themselves to brunch that one time last month, they don’t deserve to access food bank assistance. In reality, food banks function to provide individuals who face food insecurity with a moderate amount of food in order to reduce the burden of the high cost of groceries, while breakfast programs, soup kitchens and shelters strive to provide critical support and nutritious meals to individuals requiring immediate attention.
The simple fact of the matter is that all people deserve to eat and deserve to eat a well rounded diet. If you don’t eat a well balanced diet- even for a couple of days or a few weeks- your body weakens and you become susceptible to both physical and mental illness. Malnutrition sets you up for failure: you cannot work, or study, or live to your full potential.
Repeat after me: living off Ramen noodles or cat food is not good enough.
Student Food Banks
The Dalhousie Student Union Food Bank is an option for students who attend both Dal and other universities in HRM, just make sure to bring your student ID with you. Food bank hours are as follows:
- Monday: 9-11am & 12-6pm
- Tuesday: 8:30am-2:30pm & 5:30-7:30pm
- Wednesday: 9-11am & 12-5:30pm
- Thursday: 11am-8pm
- Friday: 8:30am-4pm
- Saturday: 1-5pm
Mount Saint Vincent University
Students can access the Mount Saint Vincent University Wellness Pantry at Student Union Building (Rosaria) room 106 or at Student Union Offices Room 118 near the HUB. The Wellness Pantry is stocked with free food, personal hygiene and care products, and sexual health products. As hours for this food bank vary please call 902-457-5536 to ensure that it is open during your visit.
If you’re caught between paychecks or loans and want to give back to the pantry at a later time and date you can do so by making donations at the MSVU library and receive $3-$5 off overdue fines.
You can also frequently find sample size versions of feminine hygiene products in the Health Office and at the gym.
Nova Scotia College of Art and Design
NSCAD’s food bank is supplied by Feed Nova Scotia. It’s located in the school’s Fountain campus (5163 Duke Street), just around the corner from the NSCAD Student Union office, and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Check out NSCAD Food Bank on Instagram for up to date photos of the fresh produce and assorted basic home and personal care products available.
Nova Scotia Community College
NSCC’s Institute of Technology campus (5685 Leeds Street, Halifax) and Waterfront campus (80 Mawiomi Place, Dartmouth) have food banks to serve students with valid NSCC identification. For information on the hours and availability of these food banks contact NSCC’s IT campus at firstname.lastname@example.org or Waterfront campus at email@example.com.
Saint Mary’s University
The SMU Community Food Room is located at room 526 in the university’s Student Centre. It is open as follows:
- Monday and Thursday from 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm
- Tuesday from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm
- Wednesday from 3:00 pm until 5:30 pm.
As of February 12, 2016 this food bank will be bag-less so make sure to byo bag.
Community Food Banks
Community food banks operate with assistance from Feed Nova Scotia. In order to make sure that local food banks are used fairly these organizations typically require you to bring identification and proof of of your address in order to sign up with the Feed Nova Scotia database.
Bayers Westwood Food Bank
This food bank is open on Thursdays from 11 am- 1pm located at 3495 McAlpine Avenue. With birth date baring identification and proof of your address you can access one full hamper of food once per month and vegetables once per week. You will be asked to complete an application form upon your first visit.
Brunswick Street Mission Food Bank
Feed Nova Scotia delivers food to Brunswick Street Mission Food Bank (2107 Brunswick Street) on Thursdays. In order to use this food bank you have to call ahead to pre-register on Wednesday at 902-423-4605. The food bank will provide food items as available: it is designed to supplement your grocery budget.
If you are in critical need of food check out some of Brunswick Street Mission’s other programs, which include a breakfast program and a Christmas dinner program.
Parker Street Food Bank
Located at 2415 Maynard St., Parker Street Food Bank is open Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 8:30 am -11 am, with registration starting at 8 am. A valid government issued Canadian Health Card Number, a Canadian Immigration Card Number (if applicable), photo ID, proof of Canadian Citizenship or Landed Immigrant Status (as applicable) and proof of your address are required to access the food bank. You can place an order with the Parker Street Food Bank every three weeks; the size of orders depends on need.
Parker Street Food Bank also offers several community programs including a furniture bank, an emergency service for bills you absolutely can’t cover and a Christmas dinner program.
Salvation Army Food Bank
Salvation Army Food Bank is located at 2038 Gottingen Street and is open from 9 am until 12 pm on Tuesday and Friday, with the exception of holidays. An identification card with the date of birth for all members of the household and proof of address are required to access this food bank. An application form must also be filled out during your first trip to Salvation Army Food Bank. According to 211 Nova Scotia, clients can access 3-5 days worth of food once a month at this food bank.
If you’re reading this and you’re facing food insecurity, please do not hesitate to seek help.
If you’re reading this and you have any extra to give please consider donating food, wellness products or money to local food banks (money is frequently used to purchase perishable items). You can also contact the above food banks or Feed Nova Scotia and ask about volunteering your time or participating in a local donation drives if you are tight on cash and want to help out!