Learners and staff can now buy produce right on campus
Learner Success Services has partnered with Fresh Routes’ Mobile Food Market, a grocery store on wheels that provides healthy and affordable food to underserved Calgary communities. “We recently conducted an informal financial knowledge survey with over 15,000 domestic and international learners,” says Lynn Connell, director, Learner Success Services at Bow Valley College. “Learners were asked to list three things they had difficulty paying for while attending post-secondary. Access to affordable, fresh, and accessible food ranked fourth as a major concern.”
“The answers really got us thinking about what we can do in the immediate as well as long term, so we created a food security working group, which is looking at the ways we can effectively tackle the issues students are experiencing,” adds Stacie Baker, manager, learner financial empowerment. “We also drilled down our definition of food security as people having regular, affordable access to nutritious food.”
Fresh Routes’ Mobile Food Market is a project from Leftovers Rescue Food, a non-for-profit organization that redistributes food that would otherwise be thrown into the landfill to agencies in need. Stacie describes the start of that relationship as “kind of magical.”
“At the same time that we did that survey, Fresh Routes was reaching out to us to see if it was a good fit for them to come to campus,” she says. “The partnership developed where we can meet some learner needs and Fresh Routes can get out there doing more.”
Stacie adds that affording quality food while going to college has always been a major worry for learners. Now it’s a part of a much needed national conversation.
“It was always a running joke way back when that we lived on a macaroni and cheese budget. Today, the topic is taken very seriously. Post-secondary students are coming to class hungry, tired, and unable to concentrate because they are not able to afford or access healthy food.”
The food security group is building awareness with experts and partners who want to get involved. “We’re looking at initiatives like a learner food bank, community gardens, cooking and nutrition classes, and promoting environmental sustainability,” says Stacie.
The Fresh Routes’ Mobile Food Market takes place outside The Market every Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Purchases can be made with cash, credit, or debit. For more information on our financial services for learners, click here.
Posted on January 21, 2019
Story by Julie-Anne Cleyn, photos by Chris Bolin