After serving two years as coordinator, Jillian Rogers is on her way out of the USSU Food Centre. Rogers sat down with the Sheaf to discuss her role, the changes she made and her hopes for the centre as her term ends.
Besides your interests in nutrition and food, what initially drew you to the position?
“I started volunteering with the USSU Food Centre at the beginning of my first year. I enjoyed the convenience of volunteering on campus and I gained valuable leadership skills. I’ve always been a major foodie — I considered applying to the nutrition program — and I have a passion for food security.”
“I’d intended to remain a volunteer all throughout my undergrad, but when the position as coordinator opened up, I jumped at the opportunity to increase my involvement in the organization.”
Were there any surprises upon taking up this role?
“I’ve been approached by so many students who are working on university projects regarding food security. It’s been great developing relationships with these students and seeing the results of their projects.”
What kind of changes did you make in the centre?
“The previous coordinator had an idea for a new food hamper program. When I took over, the rudimentary idea was there but no concrete plans had been developed. I spent months comparing grocery prices, running surveys, thinking of program names and helping design a website. It was a huge project, but it has been successfully launched and many students have utilized this uFood program.”
“December of 2019, I did a trial run of using a credit card machine at the Fresh Market in Upper Place — we had only accepted cash up until that point. The machine has been a huge success and I would estimate that one-third of our sales each week are now made with credit cards.”
“I’ve also added a few new items to the Fresh Market — cinnamon, salt, pepper, lentils and oats — which have sold very well.”
Are there any changes that you wish you had made?
“I’ve been very slowly working on a cookbook that uses ingredients primarily from the Fresh Market. I’ve wanted to do this since I started in my position. Hopefully, I will have a first draft finished by the time I leave.”
Anything you would like to see in the future?
“Organizing cooking classes was something I had wanted to do as a coordinator. I know there are some other groups on campus who offer similar ideas, so I wanted to make the Food Centre’s unique in some way — I just haven’t figured out how to do that yet!”
What would you like to see stay?
“I hope that the four programs running out of the centre [Emergency Food Hampers, uFood, Fresh Market and CHEP Good Food Boxes] remain and continue to flourish.”
What will you miss most come May?
“All the great people I’ve had the privilege of working with. The USSU has become my second family. I will also miss having an office to leave my backpack, lunch or random stuff in while I run to class.”
What are your plans for the future?
“I will convocate in June this year. I don’t know for sure what will happen next year. I’ve applied to the College of Medicine at a few universities across Western Canada. If that doesn’t pan out, I will probably start my masters in food science.”
CHEP Good Food Box is a biweekly subscription-based service that provides fresh food to students, who must pick up these boxes at the USSU main office.
As of March 16, the uFood program is still accessible online at ussu.ca/ufood during temporary service shutdown amid preventions of COVID-19.
Photo: Shania Jamero