UBC Okanagan students are among the most food insecure in Canada, according to a new study by UBC. 
(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)

UBC Okanagan students are among the most food insecure in Canada, according to a new study by UBC. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)

UBCO students among most food insecure in Canada

42.3 per cent either can’t properly feed themselves, or are worried they will soon run out of money

Post-secondary students in the Okanagan are among the most food insecure in the country, according to a new study by the University of British Columbia (UBC).

More than 40 per cent of students attending UBC’s Okanagan campus either don’t have enough money to feed themselves properly or are worried they will soon run out of funding.

This is according to a new study completed by the school’s Campus Health VOICE Research Project team, led by Casey Hamilton. Internally, UBC is deep-diving through a newly-launched Food Security Initiative, aiming to more clearly understand food security through consultation with students.

Hamilton and her students regularly tackle varying health issues that impact the well-being of students through community-based research.

One of the biggest speed-bumps affecting students today is food insecurity.

“Just over 40 per cent of students (pre-covid) experience what’s called household food insecurity, and that is consistent with other universities and college’s across Canada,” said Hamilton.

This is leagues higher than the Canadian household food insecurity average, which sits at around 8.4 per cent (2011-2012), according to the Government of Canada.

“I wasn’t shocked, but I was sad…A fire is lit under me to help, to see what I can do to change the system… Poverty and household food insecurity is a national issue – and it’s a systemic issue. So everybody has a role to play,” she said.

More support is needed for those experiencing poverty but still want to pursue an education, said Hamilton.

Some students come from families that don’t have enough to support them through school. But often, those students feel guilty or ashamed asking for help.

Hunger, and a variety of mental health challenges, result from food insecurity, which ultimately results from poverty, low income or minimal family support. This makes life hard for those taking their first steps into adulthood.

“On top of poverty, they’re so stressed out. They’re so busy. Students have so much on their plates… Housing is expensive, tuition, books, food, and then all the other things they have to pay for alongside that,” Hamilton said.

“Being food insecure, which means you’re hungry and don’t have money, is really stressful. You have a hard time focusing, you just feel generally unwell, you’re lethargic, exhausted. On top of that, students have demanding workloads.”

Their study also found that people of colour, Indigenous people, and those with disabilities are even worse off.

The ever-increasing cost of living has also had an adverse effect on food insecurity. For most students, this is a hole they can’t easily climb out of.

Some resources are available to students in the Okanagan – such as The Pantry, a student union-run on-campus food bank. When in desperate need, students can also use the food banks in either Lake Country or Kelowna.

Those who can, are encouraged to donate to students in need.

The university recently launched a meal share program, which provides emergency funding support to students through meal cards. The program allows students to buy food on campus and is funded through public support. More information is available here.

Short-term, this fundraiser will help students in need of immediate support.

Long-term, Hamilton said more needs to change; emergency food banks should be used for exactly that – an emergency.

Hamilton stressed the need to increase funding and support for students in poverty.

“This comes down to different policies that need to be reviewed, or updated or developed to support equity in our population.”

To support students in need, click here.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: phil.mclachlan@kelownacapnews.com


 

@newspaperphil
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

UBC

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Patios, retail shops to expand outdoor spaces in West Kelowna (PHOTO: The City of West Kelowna).
West Kelowna allows expanded patios, retail spaces

West Kelowna allows businesses to expand outdoor service areas due to pandemic restrictions

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Kate Budau’s flat tire outside of Glenmore Elementary School on Monday. (Contributed)
Kelowna mom searches for Good Samaritans who helped her change a tire

Woman looking for two dads who helped her after her tire popped in the Glenmore Elementary School drop-off area on Monday

John Wekking, Merritt Road Report - Facebook
 Coquihalla Road Report
Wildfire sparks off Coquihalla in Merritt

The wildfire is located near the Dollarama off of Highway 5

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

Volunteers at the West Kelowna Salvation Army were celebrated with a special treat on Monday. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Central Okanagan community organizations celebrate volunteers

It’s Volunteer Appreciation Week and non-profits are highlighting the people who put in the work

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Lumby resident Dan Hill was at Vernon’s Polson Park to celebrate 4-20 by giving away free marijuana joints to people of age April 20, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
North Okanagan man back with free joints, cupcakes on 4-20

Dan Hill is trying to help people of age relax during a stressful April with marijuana giveaway

A lit cigarette tossed from a passing car is believed to be the cause of a grass fire which was only held to a ditch by the quick action of passersby in Salmon Arm on April 19. (Pixabay image)
Passersby fight Salmon Arm roadside grass fire believed started by flicked cigarette

Dry conditions prompt warning from resident, fire department

Most Read