The Community Food Room (SCC 212) provides free food to help students keep fed and healthy without breaking the bank. So why aren’t students using it? Allyssia Alleyne reports
Every two weeks Ryerson’s Community Food Room receives a bounty of fresh fruits and
vegetables, and an assortment of other perishable and non-perishable goods from the Daily Bread Food Bank. Though it’s meant to be distributed to students free of charge, few of them are taking advantage of the service.
Johana Grande, one of the food room coordinators and a third-year nursing student, thinks this is because the stigma attached to accepting food for free.
“People in the Ryerson community think you have to be a specific type of person to use it,” said Grande. According to Grande, most students think this type of person is unemployed, homeless or from a low-income background.
But the food room is open to all students, regardless of their age, program or financial situation.
“There is no specific group that we cater to,” she said.
Along with free essential items like milk and eggs, the Room also distributes nutritional information and Good Food Boxes. The boxes are filled with local fruits and vegetables
provided by Food Share Toronto, a non-profit that aims to make healthy food more accessible, and cost between $13 and $18—20 to 30 per cent less than the average supermarket. Grande said they can last as long as two weeks.
The Food Room also gives out free copies of “Cooking on a Student Budget”, the cookbook that they developed in fall 2010. The book is packed full of fast, easy, affordable recipes, and has plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.
They also organize Food Security Week—which started Monday and will continue until the end of the week, to teach students about the issues involving food and who has access to it.
Grande hopes that these efforts will raise awareness about their services and encourage those who have been hesitant about visiting the room to finally do so.
“I don’t think this should be a last resort.”