The Lakehead University Meal Exchange Chapter (LUMXC) is very excited to announce that we were successful applicants for the 2020 Rural and Northern Capacity Fund.
With the funds received we have been able to purchase $12,000 in gift certificates from local businesses (Maltese Grocery, The Cheese Encounter, Thunder Bay Country Market, Superior Seasons) that support local food producers. These gift cards are currently being distributed to Lakehead University Thunder Bay students who are facing food insecurity and are in need of assistance.
Janine Walker, MA in Social Justice student and a member of the LUMXC Executive team said, "The cliché that post-secondary students can thrive on a diet of macaroni and cheese and ramen noodles is outdated, unjust and inaccurate. Adequate nutrition is essential to learning and to fulfilling one's potential.
"As with many others, the pandemic has served to increase need in the student population. In combination with other systemic factors, the reality that multiple sectors which traditionally provide employment for students are the ones that have been hardest hit by the pandemic, means many students have been left without the employment income needed to enable them to pay their bills. As a result, students find themselves cutting back where they can, including on groceries. Studies have shown that hunger and food insecurity are real problems for post-secondary students."
One student recipient of gift card support wrote to LUMXC saying, "I got to put my gift cards to use this weekend and did all my grocery shopping at the market and Maltese! All of my roommates were so happy to be able to actually buy food at these places instead of just our usual walk around and buying a small treat. You've made such an impact and I'm really grateful for the work you've done."
This is why LUMXC is so grateful to be able to do this work. Knowing what we do has helped even one student and knowing that students are able to purchase healthy food that can sustain them makes the work worthwhile. We're so thankful that we've been able to make even a small difference in these students' lives.
At LUMXC we anticipate that we will be increasing the number of grant applications that we will be making in the coming year. In doing so, we hope to be able to support more students dealing with food insecurity. We will also continue our work with our parent charity, Meal Exchange, to increase awareness and to address systemic issues which create inequities that lead to post-secondary student food insecurity. Only when food insecurity is eliminated for all and food literacy is enhanced for all will our work truly be done.
If you are a Lakehead University student in the Thunder Bay area who needs assistance, please contact us at LUMXC@mealexchange.com or follow us on Instagram at @lumxc for upcoming dates when and locations where we'll be distributing gift cards on campus. Additionally, we are always looking for students who want to help out with our initiatives - especially as we are hoping to expand our presence on campus in the new school year. If you're interested in joining us, please contact us through one of the channels listed above.
LUMXC partnered with Meal Exchange and the Lakehead University Student Union Food Resource Centre for the grant application. We're grateful for the support of Food Banks Canada in awarding us this grant, with funding provided by the Government of Canada through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Emergency Food Security Fund.