By John Ployer
The food hamper program is an extension of the SUpplies Food Bank operated by the UPEISU (Photo credits: Allison MacDonald)
With the coronavirus pandemic forcing Islanders into isolation, a new UPEI Student Union program hopes to ensure vulnerable students have access to essential items.
Earlier this week UPEISU launched SUpplies Food Hampers, a spinoff of the SUpplies food bank operating in the Student Centre. The program will see hampers of essential goods delivered directly to those who need it.
UPEI VP Finance & Administration Keesha Ryan says that the hamper program is a helpful and efficient way for aiding students during the shutdowns.
“The motivation behind the food hampers was to ensure that those who are the most vulnerable or in the most need are receiving access to essential food items,” she said.
“With the current situation, the UPEISU does not want to bulk buy a month’s worth of food items to keep and restock the food bank, as there are many people who are in need of food at the moment.”
Students can sign up online and tell UPEISU what items they need. UPEISU will try to pick up the requested items and every week a UPEISU staff person will deliver the requested items.
Ryan says that the food hampers are available to anyone who requires it, and your identity and requests are kept confidential.
“There are no specific requirements that anyone needs to meet in order to request a hamper. We run on a trust based system. Participants are asked to only request the items they are in most need of,” she said.
“All situations are unique, and anyone who feels like they will benefit from a food hamper are encouraged to request one. The SU team will do the best we can in giving participants the items they are requesting.”
Many businesses across Charlottetown have closed their doors because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Although many charitable options such as the UPEISU and Chaplaincy Centre food banks remain open, many do not feel comfortable going to them out of fear of exposure to coronavirus.
Through the hamper program. UPEISU hopes to minimize the negative effects the coronavirus-related shutdown has on the wellbeing of students.
“Food insecurity is an important issue that shouldn’t be taken lightly,” Ryan explained.
“Students are a vulnerable population who face many other stressors, whether it be financial, mental, or simple school related stress, and access to essential food should not be another item on the list to worry about.”
Students can request a hamper using the Google Form here.