online Emergency Food Hamper ordering system, uFood, helps students without
reliable access to food get much-needed groceries.
2019, the campus Food Centre supplied between 24 to 79 Emergency Food Hampers
each month, but research indicates that there is a much greater need for the
service in the community.
stigma may still be a barrier for students when trying to access the service,
the uFood online platform, which has now been active for a little more than a
year, allows students to sign up for the Emergency Food Hampers without having
to physically go to the Food Centre office.
Rogers is the Food Centre co-ordinator with the University of Saskatchewan Students’
Union. She says that food insecurity is a bigger problem than people realize,
which contributes to the stigma.
people don’t think it’s that common, there is that stigma of not wanting to access
a food bank or thinking that there will be some sort of repercussions if people
find out you’re accessing a bank,” Rogers said. “We are working and doing our
best to try and mitigate those stigmatizations.”
has been research done on just how pervasive food insecurity is on the University
of Saskatchewan campus. A study released in 2017 by Rachel Engler-Stringer,
associate professor for the department of community health and epidemiology,
“found that 39.5 per cent of students were food insecure to some degree.”
research had a sample size of 4,500 students who were classified into three
categories of food insecurity: marginal, moderate and severe. She found that
7.5 per cent of the student body was severely food insecure, meaning that they
were skipping entire days’ worth of meals to help cope.
There is also evidence of food
insecurity being a wider issue outside campus. While the Food Centre gives out
less than a hundred Emergency Food Hampers each month, the Saskatoon Food Bank
and Learning Centre’s 2019 annual report says that in the previous year they
served 227,361 people throughout the city with 83,207 hampers.
Rogers says the best way to
help students feel less stigmatized is to avoid asking about a student’s
“We don’t ask questions. I
think that’s the biggest thing when it comes to reducing the stigma,” Rogers
said. “We just don’t [ask].”
When using the uFood platform,
students can order the hampers without having to face many of the common
“We want to make it as
accessible as possible so it’s just online; no questions, [you] can just
submit, you get an email, you can pick it up,” Rogers said.
An added benefit of the online
program is that students can select which items they want.
“The difference being [that]
it’s customizable,” Rogers said. “So that’s done online; it’s meant to kind of
feel like an online shopping experience.”
Unfortunately, there are some
potential problems with not asking any questions ahead of giving out food hampers.
Rogers hopes that only students who are having trouble accessing food use the
“We find that one of the main
problems is word gets out about the program and then you have students coming
in who don’t truly need the program,” Rogers said. “Again, we’re not asking the
questions of whether or not you need it.”
However, the reduced barriers
mean that the Emergency Food Hampers can better help students in times of
“There aren’t any restrictions
to accessing it,” Rogers said. “We don’t ask for income, or we don’t ask for
what your circumstances are — we don’t care about that. If you come to us and
say, ‘I need help. I need food,’ we are here to provide that for you.”
You can find more information about uFood and order an Emergency Food Hamper at ussu.ca/ufood.