Food bank program expands to satellite campuses

The downtown site will now offer food vouchers, redeemable at Nester's.

The Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) food bank has officially expanded its reach to the Vancouver campus at Woodwards, and plans to expand to SFU’s Surrey campus in the near future.

According to the SFSS board of directors, $500 has been allocated for 100 Dining Hall vouchers for Burnaby, $1,875 for 75 Safeway vouchers for SFU Surrey, and $2,000 for 80 Nester’s Market vouchers at the Burnaby or Vancouver locations.

Vouchers are now available at the SFSS general office or at Nester’s Market opposite Woodwards.

The SFSS took over responsibility for the program on October 1, 2013 after Student Services withdrew its support.

According to SFSS president Chardaye Bueckert, the SFSS was “committed to making sure that students could access needs based food support on campus.” This led to the aforementioned voucher system that is currently in place at SFU campuses.

In an interview with The Peak, Bueckert and Faculty of Communications, Art and Technology representative Shirin Escarcha explained the role of the SFSS in the food bank program and its expansion to Vancouver.

The SFSS’ Food Bank Working Group, which is spearheading the project, wanted to explore the possibility of “serv[ing] the students who are primarily based in downtown campuses, not only in Woodwards but at Harbour Centre as well,” Escarcha explained.

The two lauded the voucher system, which offers redeemable coupons worth $25 at a time, broken down into two $10 vouchers and one $5 voucher. The vouchers can be used to purchase any food product in Nester’s Market. Bueckert commented, “Instead of just having canned, non-perishable foods, they [students] can access produce and dairy and people with dietary restrictions have a larger variety of options.”

The receipts that are given to students are copied and returned to the SFSS, who then reimburse Nester’s Market for items purchased with the vouchers. Statistics compiled by the board from these vouchers show that 63.63 per cent of all food purchased between January and March 2014 was perishable. Of this percentage, nine per cent was junk food and 2.89 per cent was frozen food.

Bueckert explained these findings: “Clearly people are using [the voucher system] for healthy food, they are making good use of it [. . .] I feel like this program has a real advantage over a traditional food bank model.”

Students using the vouchers can also pick up granola bars, donated by Nester’s Market Nester’s Market also encourages customers to contribute their Nester’s Points to the SFU Food Bank program.

The Food Bank Working Group is working to establish ties with other stores around the Surrey campus in order to launch the program there sometime over the next few months.

Escarcha remarked, “At the end of the day, it’s about erasing stigma for students, and so we want to ensure that everybody from all campuses has the most convenient access to this program.”