St. Thomas food bank struggling to fill shelves

With supplies at the St. Thomas food bank dwindling, the university encourages everyone to give a gift of compassion this year. A few free meals could keep some students in school.

(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)
(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)

Fourth-year STU student Rene Doucette relied on the food bank last school year.

“I had to pay rent so I didn’t have enough money for food,” he said.

On multiple occasions, Doucette didn’t have food money for two to three weeks at a time. “Not everyone can get money from their parents. So I went to the food bank,” he said.

To help people like Rene, the STU wellness committee launched the “Fill the Tree” food drive in support of the food bank located in the back of the chapel on the second floor of George Martin Hall. The campaign will run for three weeks from Nov. 17 to Dec. 4.

“If we had to rely on the (current) donation boxes there would be nothing in the food bank,” said food bank coordinator Tasha Hodges. “The stock is going faster than it was before Halloween. The demand is quite high,”

Hodges used to stock the shelves every other day. Now she must stock them daily, and with more food.

STU human resources officer and wellness committee chair Lori Orchard struggled to afford food while attending university, and seeing similar initiatives made her want to give back.

(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)
(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)

“Food shouldn’t be a concern for students, or anyone for that matter,” she said.

Hodges said because anyone can access the food bank, she can’t know how many people use it, “but the demand is definitely there.”

Food isn’t the only thing that Hodges needs to run the food bank. “People ask for toothpaste and things. It’s really more like a need bank.”

Donation boxes will be placed in every building on campus for non-perishable items. A refrigerator is also available at the food bank. Once filled, the boxes will form a tree in James Dunn Hall.

Orchard said the goal is to make students’ lives easier during the holiday season. She also hopes to increase awareness for the food bank year-round.

“Before Fill the Tree, I didn’t know where the food bank was,” Orchard said.

Doucette hasn’t used the STU food bank since last year. He hopes the food drive will bring in enough to support everyone in need.

“It basically gives people the chance to stay in school,” he said.

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