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)

UBC Okanagan 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.

According to Hamilton, this is leagues higher than the Canadian household food insecurity average, which sits at around 13 per cent.

“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

Kalesnikoff Lumber will be providing materials for a 21-storey apartment building in Vancouver. Rendering: Henriquez Partners Architects
Kalesnikoff supplying mass timber for several major projects

The West Kootenay lumber company will be making the products at South Slocan facility

School District 8 superintendent Christine Perkins will leave for Vernon’s school district at the end of the academic year. Photo: Submitted
School District 8 superintendent Christine Perkins resigns

Perkins is leaving to take over another district

The 300 block Victoria Street is the site of Nelson’s proposed transit exchange. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
LETTER: Nelson City Council, please reconsider transit hub plan

From seven property and business owners near the intersection of Victoria and Kootenay Streets

Selkirk College has received provincial funding to assist students. File photo
Selkirk College receives funding to assist students

Provincial funding is available to West Kootenay students

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

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

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Most Read