A Demographic Overview of the Good Food Centre’s Members from September 2013 – July 2014

For many students, university is a time of self discovery, relationship building, and transformational learning . However, as our inaugural Hunger Report illustrates, last year hundreds of students at Ryerson University learned that the high cost of education could mean the difference between buying textbooks and eating.

In 2013, the Ontario Association of Food Banks reported that post-secondary students were among the fastest growing users of food banks in Ontario. However, student hunger remains a hidden issue. To date, there have been no Canadian studies conducted on the experiences or effects of student food insecurity. Student hunger remains on the fringe of food security concerns as poverty is accepted as a reasonable trade off for obtaining a post-secondary education. However, what about those who are already improvised and are using education as a means to exit poverty? For these individuals, the current education system only reproduces marginalization and systems of oppression.

In this ground breaking report, the first of its kind in Canada, we explore how the high cost of tuition, an inadequate student loan system, and an overly competitive summer job market have all contributed to increasing food insecurity at Ryerson. Compiled with information from the food centre’s member intake forms, the report also sheds light on demographic information such as the gender, age, parental status, and faculty percentage of the food centre’s members.

With over 2,500 visits from students seeking emergency food relief in 2013/2014, student hunger is a larger problem at Ryerson than many might suspect. This report, while informative and comprehensive, most likely only illustrates a portion of food insecurity occurring at Ryerson University. Many students do not utilize our services from lack of knowledge or stigma, shame, and guilt.

What people are saying about The Hunger Report:

Corey Scott, Equity and Campaign Organizer at the Ryerson Students’ Union:

“We have always known that student food insecurity has been an issue at Ryerson. However, with the release of The Hunger Report we now have an in depth understanding of who uses the Good Food Centre, where their food insecurity stems from, and how we can work towards remedying these issues.”

Michael Waglay, National Program Coordinator at Meal Exchange:

“By releasing this campus hunger report, The Ryerson Students’ Union and Good Food Centre are taking the lead in raising awareness about the hidden problems on Canadian campuses and talking about long-term solutions to student poverty. As far as Meal Exchange is aware, this is the first time something like this has been done, and it couldn’t have come at a better time, since students are among the fastest growing group of food bank users.”

About the researchers:

Drew Silverthorn is a 3rd year social work student and program coordinator at the Good Food Centre. He has spoken for organizations such as Meal Exchange and the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council about the hidden struggles of student food insecurity, highlighting the importance of ensuring fair and equitable access to post-secondary education.

Danielle Labonté is an aspiring nutrition professional and a volunteer at the Good Food Centre. She completed her BASc. in Nutrition and Food at Ryerson University, along with a Certificate in Food Security. She is extremely passionate about working to alleviate food insecurity, specifically on a local scale, and believes that creating awareness by conducting research regarding this issue is a crucial factor in meeting that goal. Danielle’s main area of interest is regarding the correlation between diabetes and food insecurity.

Anthony Nguyen…coming soon

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