Red River College and Winnipeg Harvest take care of students in need, but strategic awareness necessary.

BY Samantha Cortes, Contributor

Red River College (RRC) students in need may be missing out on a campus food bank that goes above and beyond the aid of healthy groceries. Some students don’t know the food bank even exists.  

Winnipeg Harvest and RRC prepare bi-weekly hampers available for student pick-up on Wednesdays at the Exchange District Campus (EDC) and Fridays at the Notre Dame Campus (NDC).

Any student can receive a hamper.

“There is no means testing, we only question the source of income, not how much income, and that’s just for statistical purposes,” Deb Swereda said.

It’s not just food students receive.  Dog food, cat food, Depends products, tampons and sanitary napkins are given if Winnipeg Harvest has them on hand.  Swereda explained that when people don’t need to buy these items, it frees up money for groceries.

“Tampons and pads are the most requested and least received item for Winnipeg Harvest,” Deb said.

Other post-secondary institutions have similar services.  

The University of Winnipeg (U of W) is also partnered with Winnipeg Harvest said Tristan Henry, Foodbank Coordinator at U of W. The University of Manitoba (U of M) is operated separately, according to the U of M website.

Some students at RRC were unaware the food bank existed.

“I know some international students who come from families that may not be well-off, so that would be a really good option to get you through the weeks,” said Soni Singh, an RRC Post-Graduate International Business student.

Soni thinks increasing awareness is the best approach for more students to use the service. Deb Swereda agrees.

“Better advertising, news stories and maybe a student information package would go a long way to help,” Deb said.

But if RRC wants to spread awareness, it should be done carefully, at least judging from what happened at U of M.

“We don’t do much advertising, because in the past we’ve done that and have had problems with people abusing it,” Emily Cherlet, Food Bank Coordinator at the U of M said in an email.

However, most Winnipeg Harvest users respect the service. When people do get paid, they don’t use it, said Tyler Engel, Volunteer Services Manager at Winnipeg Harvest.

“It goes to show that people aren’t taking advantage,” said Engel.

To register with Winnipeg Harvest and receive a student hamper at RRC, call (204) 982-3660 and have your name and medical number ready.  Sign up deadlines are at 3:30 p.m. two days before pick-up, according to the RRC website.