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

A screenshot taken from the Parksville city council meeting on Monday, April 19, where members of the Friends of the Parksville Community Centre presented the results of an ongoing online petition. Parksville city council is shown top left, David Todtman is shown top right, and Valerie Dare is shown at the bottom. (Via Youtube)
Friends of the Parksville Community Centre members present online petition to city council

Nearly 2,600 signatures collected in bid to keep facility as community gathering place

The scene of a single-vehicle crash along Dolphin Drive in Nanoose Bay on Monday morning, April 19. (Mandy Moraes photo)
RCMP: No injuries reported in rollover crash in Nanoose Bay

Police say passengers indicate driver left the scene

The Town of Qualicum Beach plans to establish temporary shelters. (Town of Qualicum Beach illustration)
Town of Qualicum Beach seeks $1.25M grant to build temporary housing units

Aim is to move tenants in prior to the end of 2021

Mount Arrowsmith Teachers’ Association and its Nanaimo-Ladysmith counterpart seek stricter COVID-19 rules. (PQB News file photo)
Mount Arrowsmith teachers’ union asks health authority for stricter COVID-19 measures

Teachers ask for vaccine, more online learning, mask mandate for primary students

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Canadian driver Paul Tracy pulls out of the pits during the morning session at the Molson Indy in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, July 26, 2003 (CP/Richard Lam)
Vancouver is considering hosting a Formula E race using electric cars

The race would be part of a three-day event focused on climate and sustainability

Chart from the April 20 B.C. budget shows sharp dip in real estate sales early in the COVID-19 pandemic and the even steeper climb since late 2020. (B.C. government)
Hot B.C. housing market drives property transfer tax gains

B.C. budget boosts tobacco, sweet drinks, carbon taxes

President Joe Biden holds a virtual bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
U.S. to help Canada with more COVID-19 vaccine supply, Biden says

The U.S. has already provided Canada with about 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine

B.C.’s 2021 budget is trending in the right direction to support farmers, says the BC Fruit Growers’ Association. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
BC Fruit Growers’ Association gives thumbs up to provincial budget

BCFGA general manager said budgetary investments put farming industry on a good trajectory for recovery

Some Saanich firefighters have expressed concerns about first responders in the Island Health Region not being prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as an outbreak at a fire station would make service delivery a challenge. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Some Island firefighters not prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine despite working on frontlines

Saanich members express frustration, department calls on Island Health to take action

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson leaves the assembly with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Paid sick leave for ‘hard-hit’ workers left out of provincial budget: BCGEU

‘For recovery to be equitable it requires supports for workers, not just business,’ says union president Laird Cronk

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

Most Read