Western College meals financial institution sees huge surge in service requests on campus – London


Ahead of the holiday season, Western University’s food bank in London, Ontario is reporting a massive surge in the number of students requesting its services and programs.

“We actually see almost twice as much [compared to last year] in both our walk-in and basket service,” said Cameron Cawston, Western’s vice president of student support and programming, who oversees the food bank.

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First opened in 2009, the Food Support Services program, offered and funded by the university’s student council, is run entirely by fellow students on campus. The food bank offers a walk-in service as well as a confidential online service – the basket service – which allows students to make a request online and have their order delivered to a designated locker.

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“We’re really paying attention this year and making sure we’re looking closely just because our numbers are going up so much,” Cawston said.

She added that one of the reasons for the sharp increase in service requests has to do with food insecurity.

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“Food insecurity has always been an issue for post-secondary students,” she said. “But with the rise in tuition, the cost of living and food prices, they are all contributing. So there will never be one main cause, it is the cumulative factors that affect our students.”

But despite an increasing number of students using the university’s blackboard, donations are still coming in.

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“We’re very fortunate to have been able to host some of our events to support our charity, but there will always be ups and downs when it comes to giving,” Cawston said. “However, the donations have been great and we are very fortunate to have such a supportive community, both inside and outside the West, as the London community was definitely able to support us.

“But it’s really great to see students supporting students. That’s the whole goal of the panel,” she said.

Last week, the London Food Bank sounded the alarm by drawing attention to the growing needs in the community and stressing that the agency is at a “crossroads” as winter approaches.

“This problem of food insecurity goes well beyond the western walls,” Cawston said. “We recognize this and hope that as a community in London and beyond we can start addressing this.”

For more information about Western’s Food Support Services program and where to donate, visit the Western USC Store website.

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