The Good Food Centre could see a decrease in funding, poll suggests

 A recent poll suggests very few Ryerson students will choose to support the on-campus food bank in light of the government plan to cut ancillary fees.

 march 21, 2019

Nearly 40 per cent of Ryerson students are somewhat-to-very likely to opt out of ancillary fees supporting the Good Food Centre, the campus food centre, according to a recent poll conducted by first-year journalism students.

The results indicate only 20 per cent would be somewhat-to-very likely to keep supporting the centre, and 40 per cent are unsure or neutral on the topic.

These results somewhat contradict the results of a 2017 referendum carried out by the Ryerson Students’ Union. After passing with a 75 per cent majority, the food bank and the Ryerson Sexual Assault Survivor Support Line were able to split a $5-per-semester tuition increase, starting September 2018.

 Rows of cans inside The Good Food Centre. (RSJ/Dhriti Gupta)

Whether or not this $5 levy will remain a part of tuition next year, the RSU interim president is unsure.

“We haven’t had any clarity from the provincial government,” said Maklane deWever. “I think that we’ve seen with the Ford government that there’s really nothing off limits. My sister works with autistic children and you’d think autistic children were off limits, but at this current moment I don’t see any reason why the food bank would be off limits also.”

Future of $5 levy uncertain

Harnoor Gosal poses inside The Good Food Centre on March 13, 2019. (RSJ/Dhriti Gupta)

Harnoor Gosal, a co-ordinator at the centre thinks a decrease in student support would have huge consequences for the well-being of the centre and its members.

“A lot of our food comes from the budget that we get as an equity service,” she said. “We get two deliveries a week, and while one of them is a free delivery we get from Daily [Bread] Food Bank, the other one is one that we pay for.” She said all of the produce at the centre is paid for. Gosal stressed that since the release of the revised Canadian food guide, providing produce for the members is essential to their nutritional needs.

A bin of fresh oranges available to the members of the Good Food Centre (RSJ/Dhriti Gupta)

As well, the centre has recently experienced increased demand, with an addition of more than 100 new members since September 2018. On a weekly basis, the centre spends around $1,000 on purchasing food for its members.

Nearly two in five post secondary students in Canada experience a degree of food insecurity, according to a 2016 study conducted by the Meal Exchange.

Several different things factor into food insecurity for Ryerson students, including expensive international tuition and soaring downtown rent rates.

An international student completing a PhD in mechanical engineering, who has chosen to remain anonymous, disclosed he spends $21,500 per year in tuition and $900 in accommodation per month. He has found that using the GFC to obtain his core groceries has helped him cut his general monthly expenses by 40 per cent.

The annual Hunger Report released by the GFC for 2017-2018 found that international students make up 28 per cent of GFC members, while only representing 1.9 per cent of Ryerson’s undergraduate program. As well, the faculty of engineering and architectural science accounts for the highest number of GFC members when compared to all other faculties.

In addition, the centre helps students to be more self-reliant when it comes to their financial struggles.

“This is an opportunity to be able to not put so much pressure on friends and family to support you but also have the school support your needs.” said a woman, who was picking up food for her boyfriend who is in his third year of RTA media production. She thinks it’s essential that students don’t have to worry about prioritizing school or self-sustenance.

First-year Ryerson School of Journalism students surveyed 1,179 Ryerson University students in person and online between March 1-4, 2019. Results for the full sample have a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20; it may be larger for subgroups. 

 2 in 5 students struggle with food insecurity

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© 2020 by Dhriti Gupta.

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