On-campus food bank sees increase in number of N.B. college students struggling to buy food

WATCH: More New Brunswick college students are struggling with food insecurity as food banks at NBCC colleges across the province see an increase in the number of students accessing their Mother Hubbard's Cupboard food bank. Shelley Steeves has more.

More New Brunswick college students are struggling with food insecurity as food banks at NBCC colleges across the province see an increase in the number of students accessing their Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard food bank.

“We see the need and we see them struggle sometimes and we are just happy that they can come here and whatever help they need we will try to help them” said Renelle Girouard, a career and well-being counselor at NBCC Moncton.

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Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard is an on-campus food bank and a place where students can go to discretely top up their cupboards with essentials.

Girouard says similar foods banks at the six campuses across the province feed about 200 students a month, and it’s been a challenge to keep the shelves stocked.

Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard was started at the Moncton campus ten years ago and spread across the province as the need increased.

The college holds student driven fundraisers, like the luncheon that took place on Thursday, to raise enough money to stock the shelves at the Moncton campus.

READ MORE: Seniors’ food insecurity, usage concerns raised by New Brunswick food banks

“Just to give you an example, last September it was 1,600 dollars for September alone,” said Girouard.

Cathy Taylor knows what it’s like to be a college student so strapped for cash that you can’t even afford to buy food.

“Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard was really helpful for me just to add a little bit of groceries to my shelf and I didn’t have to stress about food for the week,” said Taylor, who took on the role of team lead for the food bank after getting help herself.

Taylor said making sure the shelves are stocked is a big responsibility given that the number of students accessing the service is growing every year.

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According to Food Secure Canada, a growing number of post-secondary students across the country are facing hunger and food insecurity, and there are now food banks on most university and college campuses in Canada.

The group says students are going hungry due in part to higher tuition fees, growing debt, and a sluggish market.

“It is definitely a balancing act as a student and I know that some of our students here are parents as well so it is a lot to deal with sometimes,” said Taylor who is in her fourth year of studies at the college.

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At this point, Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard has gone beyond just providing food said Girouard.

‘When we see that the same person has accessed it many many times we send out an email of concern to see if they would want to talk about it, if they want help with budgeting and see if there is anything else going on.”

The food bank wants to make sure that both students’ bodies and minds are full.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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