With a proposed student levy in the works, the Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) Food Bank has more to look forward to after a year of changes.
Previously, students had to go through the Student Health Services office to visit the food bank. It is now accessible in the basement of the Student Union Building. (Just walk down the stairs and it’s beside the Health Plan office, across from Campus Copy.)
The food bank has also increased its hours of operation. It is now open from 1-7 p.m., Monday to Friday.
“Students like the flexibility of being able to come in the evening,” says Jessica Dempsey, DSU Food Bank coordinator. “One of the big goals was reducing the stigma for people using the food bank, and trying to make it a more welcoming environment.”
The food bank stepped up its social media presence this year to draw in more volunteers and raise awareness. In Nov. 2013, they held a draw for a microwave and a coffee maker.
“It’s not easy for a person to admit they need help. It’s the impression from society that they can’t fend for themselves. We are just trying to make it an acceptable form of help,” said Ramz Aziz, DSU VP internal. “It’s all about improving quality.”
The food bank has other plans in the works. Funds are being raised for a cooler so they can provide perishable items like fruits and vegetables. Next year will introduce a co-curricular record position of volunteer coordinator.
A 25 cent levy per student has been proposed to help raise funds. The question will go to a referendum during March’s DSU election.
According to Feed Nova Scotia, the DSU Food Bank is one of 86 food banks servicing the HRM. About 45 per cent of people using food banks are single-person households, and the amount of people using food banks has increased by 28.6 per cent since 2008.