News Assistant Amy Badry participated in The Food Hamper Project -- an initiative to raise awareness about the Campus Food Bank and food insecurity on campus. Nine participants from the university community were asked to live off a typical food bank hamper for one week.
My initial feeling toward the contents of The Hamper Project was excitement. As a university student surviving off student loans, I have a limited food budget. There was a lot of food in the hamper, but as I unpacked the food for the week, I realized that most of it was packaged and processed. Kraft Dinner, white bread, white muffin mix, canned vegetables and only two apples and two oranges to last me seven days.
As the week progressed, I was constantly thinking about food and when my next meal was going to be. There were days when I didn't have enough time to make lunch, leaving me tired and irritable.
An aspect of food insecurity that is not often mentioned is the emotional and mental stress one experiences along with an empty stomach. I became frustrated when I couldn't purchase a snack in MacHall to ease my growling stomach. I became angry when friends invited me out for drinks and I couldn't go. Every aspect of my life was affected.
Food insecurity is a problem here on campus and the rest of Canada. Food insecurity basically means running out of money to buy food, or running out of food before money is available. It also means having culturally appropriate, safe and nutritious food.
Almost two million Canadians are living with food insecurity and here on campus the food bank provides over 200 food hampers a year.
The reality is complete freedom from frozen dinners may not be possible for all. It is because of this, however, that students must be all the more aware of the nutrition they are and are not getting in their meals.