NCSAC launches Nourishing Minds program to replace food bank

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A message from the Niagara College Student Administrative Council:

The students of today, are not the students of yesterday. Their needs, and dietary restrictions have evolved along with the progression of societal norms. Along side, the services provided by the NCSAC are evolving too!

Specifically, the focus of this is the evolution of our food bank. For over 20 years, the NCSAC has been operating a traditional food bank; it functioned by application in person, then once approved a bag of various predetermined food options were handed to the requesting student.

This ‘worked’ in the sense that food was provided for someone who requested it. Circle back to present day if you factor in dietary restrictions, food allergies, etc. it might lead to that bag of food being wasted due to the student being unable to eat any of it.

Furthermore, we are not able to truly determine need versus want.

The question was asked: “How do we fix these two issues?”

After some research and board discussions, it was decided that NCSAC would evolve with the times and transition to a modern food bank service. We have changed the name to the Nourishing Minds Program as opposed calling it the food bank.  We will no longer be handing out bags of food. Rather, we are providing gift cards ($25 denomination) to local grocery stores.

This method not only empowers the student with the ability to select their own food. They are able to walk into a grocery store and walk out with a bag of food they chose for themselves. We strongly believe this goes a long way to removing the stigma associated with the traditional food bank system.

In regards to need, we also wanted to change the method of how a student can access our Nourishing Minds Program. In a bold move, we decided to pull the food bank presence from our website, and halt any promotion of it through social media.

We, along with the Financial Aid, Counselling, Student Services, Health Services and the International Department staff come into play. On a daily basis, we are interacting with students through social media, emails, or in person in our offices. Through these interactions we frequently come across students who are struggling with food insecurity issues as well as being financially challenged.

New process for a student to access our Nourishing Minds Program:

1: The student will meet with one of the advisors from Financial Aid, Counselling, Student Services, Health Services or the International Department.

2: The advisor will determine need, and complete a Nourishing Minds Program request form.

3: The student will bring the signed request form to the NCSAC office to receive a gift card(s) in the amount stated on the form (minimum $25).

It is important to remember that we are providing the service to students who are in need.  With the new processes we are able to adequately support this crucial program.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email cwilliams@niagaracollege.ca

 

Interested in donating?

Those who would like to contribute to NCSAC’s new food bank which provides grocery gift cards for students may donate at the NCSAC offices at the Welland or NOTL Campus.

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