Student poverty, campus food bank use on the rise

TORONTO, June 10, 2015 /CNW/ - As students come to the end of another semester and work to find summer employment, many are scrambling to find something to eat. A growing trend among Canadian campuses are the number of food banks and students living below the poverty line. There is now a food bank on almost every campus and post-secondary students are one of the fastest growing groups of food bank users in the country. 25 years ago, this was unheard of.

Today, Meal Exchange announces the launch of the Beyond Campus Food Banks project to raise awareness of student poverty. "We're connecting the dots between food bank usage and student poverty." said Anita Abraham, Executive Director of Meal Exchange. "Students across Canada are dealing with unprecedented tuition fees, growing unemployment and soaring housing costs. While these trends have been rising for years, now we are seeing numbers that are leaving our next generation of leaders in a state of poverty."

The project aims to empower students to promote dignified good food access and build a movement to end student poverty. Meal Exchange believes that no student should have to go through poverty to get an education.

Students are facing higher costs and lower incomes than a generation ago: tuition fees have risen 238% since 1991, at the same time that federal funding for post-secondary education has dropped 50%. Youth un(der)employment is at 27.7% and housing costs have increased 17% from 2009 to 2012 alone.

"Campus food banks are unable to meet the needs of students living in poverty." said Drew Silverthorn, Coordinator of the Good Food Centre, an on-campus food bank at Ryerson University. "It's important that we keep doing our best to feed students in need, but ultimately we have to do more to get at the root of the problem."

Silverthorn has been involved with Meal Exchange programs since 2013. He is planning to be a part of the Beyond Campus Food Banks project as it rolls out over the summer and into the school year.

As a first step, Meal Exchange aims to raise $10,000 through an online fundraising campaign. All funds will go to  train students at the National Student Food Summit in August, publish Campus Hunger Reports to quantify the numbers of students using food banks, and host campus-level actions in support of the first-ever National Day of Action on Student Poverty in 2016. Those wishing to contribute to the campaign can donate online at www.endstudentpoverty.causevox.com.

SOURCE Meal Exchange

Image with caption: "Student poverty and campus food bank usage (CNW Group/Meal Exchange)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150610_C5944_PHOTO_EN_17891.jpg

For further information: Anita Abraham, Executive Director, Meal Exchange, 416.822.4656 (cell), anita@mealexchange.com; Michael Waglay, Program Coordinator, Beyond Campus Food Banks, 416.879.4923 (cell), michael@mealexchange.com

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