Student Aid, including initiatives like the Panther Patrol and campus fundraisers, plays a crucial role at UPEI. However, with rising grocery prices, many students rely on food banks to alleviate financial strains. The Chaplaincy Centre houses a popular Student Food Bank, but another lesser-known resource is the UPEI SU “SUpplies” program, aimed at combating student food insecurity.
The UPEI SUpplies, located at the old Mickey’s Place Kiosk near the Tim Hortons entrance in the Student Centre, was started in 2019 to address student food insecurity. Complementing the busy Chaplaincy Centre, it offers a 24/7 anonymous food bank with food, hygiene products, and school supplies.
You can visit and select the items you need from a wide array of food, hygiene products, and school supplies – essential items that might be challenging to afford for some. Additionally, there’s an online grab bag program. After you apply, a service coordinator will connect with you to customize a bag based on your requirements. This personalized grab bag is available for pick up at the UPEI SU front desk. Also, there’s a Gift Card program that you can apply for online. Upon approval, you can collect your gift card from the front desk.
The UPEI SUpplies, despite its strategic location in the bustling Student Centre, seems somewhat overlooked by those outside the Student Union. While the initiative only started four-five years ago, many believed the usage would be higher, especially when contrasted with the overwhelming turnout at the Chaplaincy Centre food bank.
I discussed this with Rayyan Ramjan, UPEI SU’s VP of Finance, who oversees the SU-pplies services.
“As soon as I came in [to office], I started implementing them [advertisements of the services] in the newsletter and we saw a huge spile in both gift card and SU-pplies services. The 24/7 service has always been popular though. We are working on videos to further spread the word, but it is taking time. We will be working more on it for sure.”
Regardless of the turnout, the UPEI SUpplies remains dedicated to supporting students on campus with free groceries and other daily essentials that many struggle to afford.
In addition to the SUpplies, the UPEI SU offers gift cards to both Walmart and Superstore. The gift cards can be accessed through a form on the UPEISU website. This is also the case for the grab bags, in which a specialized form is needed to customize the grab bag according to what is needed for each person.
Although gift cards are not guaranteed to all those to apply, it is a sure way to help those in need who suffer from food insecurities and would prefer to buy their groceries themselves.
For more information, the helpful UPEI SU team can be found on the second floor of the UPEI Student Union Centre. The forms for gift cards and grab bags are easily accessible under ‘Student Services’ on the UPEI Student Union website, upeisu.ca.
Some of the food items and hygiene products available at UPEI SUpplies. Photo by Fleur Rodrigez.