A group of students at the Nova Scotia Community College Annapolis Valley campus are launching a program offering free home-cooked meals to fellow students, hoping to combat food insecurity.
The group uses leftover items from the campus food bank, along with excess produce from local farmers — in partnership with Farm Cafe — as ingredients for the meals.
The program has been in its pilot stage since June and will start expanding in October. It’s run through the campus’ Enactus Canada chapter, which describes itself as “a network of leaders committed to using business as a catalyst for positive social and environmental impact.”
Brianna Barton wanted to get involved with the group because she has a personal connection to its mission.
“I actually grew up in a really food insecure home and that was a common theme throughout the town I grew up in,” said Barton, president of NSCC Annapolis’ Enactus chapter and an energy sustainability engineering technology student.
“There are definitely a lot of students struggling right now.”
Suzanne Milner, a business teacher and faculty advisor for the club, said some food bank items don’t get taken because students might not know how to incorporate them into meals.
She used the example of canned chickpeas. The group used them to make a batch of vegetarian chili, which was a big hit.
“It’s not just about making food accessible in a dignified manner to students,” said Milner. “It’s also teaching them how to help feed themselves with what they have.”
Barton hopes that starting in October, the group will be able to feed at least 30 students a week on the campus of about 250. They meet weekly to prepare the meals and then store them in a cafeteria freezer.
Students will be able to take them for free, or pay $3 per meal if they can. They can also pay $5 to “buy one, give one” to another student in need.
Both Barton and Milner hope this helps to combat some of the stigmas that they say still exist around using food bank services.
Making food accessible
As the group expands next month, they anticipate needing more student volunteers, more community partnerships, more funding and potentially another commercial kitchen to work in.
“The overall goal is to make food accessible and inexpensive for students,” said Milner.
Along with progressing on their own campus, Barton and Milner could also see the program turning into a lunch program for local elementary, junior high and high schools.
In addition, they’re building a greenhouse so they can work with fresh produce year-round.
“Even though it doesn’t seem like a few meals, or a meal here or there, makes a difference, it actually makes a huge impact,” said Barton.
“Trying to expand that so that it’s accessible to as many students and young people as possible is a really huge goal of ours.”
Source : CBC