Students and staff live off food hampers for a week to raise awareness

By Brent Constantin

A group of nine University of Calgary students and staff has been living off food hampers to bring awareness to the Students’ Union Campus Food Bank since March 21.

The Hamper Project has garnered participants like SU vice-president academic Alyssa Stacy and U of C vice-provost (students) Ann Tierney and incoming Gauntlet news editor Amy Badry, who have all maintained blogs to document their experience. Participants were required not to purchase any food or beverages to supplement their diets for the week.

SU VP student life Jennifer Abbott is helping to coordinate the project and explained it is a promotion of food security and the promotion of resources on campus.

“I think it’s just to show the struggle that some students go through,” said Abbott, who explained many must use the hampers not just for a week but months at a time.

Participant and fourth-year biology student Katie Anker said the process made her more aware of what she eats. As a current food bank volunteer, Anker was interested to see if any changes needed to be made to the make up of the baskets.

“I found there’s a lack of accessible protein,” Anker said. “We got a whole chicken, but we have a lot of vegetarian clients that come in and their ability to obtain protein is even harder, so I would hope that in the future we can get tofu and other sources.”

Anker said a lack of milk products and products with high sodium content were also an issue.

Stacy said as she spends much of her time at the school, her eating habits were not great to begin with. Now, with limited options to choose from, she finds herself doing a lot more planning of what to eat.

“It’s a little limiting of course, because you can only eat what’s in your hamper,” said Stacy. “It’s just really been forcing me to be more creative. We’re lucky that we’re only living this for a week.”

The project ends with a panel discussion March 25 at noon in That Empty Space. Students are encouraged to attend and ask questions.