February 29, 2024

Free to entry, meals banks depend on donations and are sometimes utilized by these on incapacity or people who’re unemployed or underemployed

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A rising style of movies on YouTube and TikTok is angering some Canadians who say worldwide college students are being inspired to abuse meals banks to be able to get “free groceries.”

Various latest movies, with titles like “How one can get free meals in Canada” and “Free meals in Canada for college kids,” have been shared on social media and elicited a combined response at a time of hovering prices and excessive inflation.

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A put up on X that has been considered practically 500,000 occasions options 4 screenshots from completely different YouTube movies instructing college students how you can entry meals banks.

“Only a few individuals in Canada know that you may declare free meals hampers,” begins an virtually 10-minute lengthy YouTube video that was posted in June this yr. “College students face quite a lot of monetary issues, particularly throughout this time when there are only a few jobs obtainable and if you’re new to Canada, it’s very troublesome to outlive on restricted funds. Throughout this time, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of free groceries, free meals hampers. On this video, I’m going to gather a free meals hamper and I’ll present you what’s inside and how one can declare it too.”

The YouTuber provides that since shifting to Canada he has claimed the ‘free hamper’ twice, the second time for the sake of constructing the video in order that he may inform others about the identical. “I’ve a job so I’m able to handle to purchase groceries by myself. I might additionally advocate, if in case you have a job then purchase your individual groceries.”

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The video up to now two months has garnered over 20,000 views.

One other video posted in Might follows an analogous narrative of “how one can lower your expenses on groceries in Canada.” The video follows the YouTuber as he makes his technique to a Salvation Military meals financial institution with a buddy who additionally volunteers on the location. “Not simply college students, I’ve seen even Canadians come right here to get free meals. There isn’t any disgrace,” he notes earlier than coming into the constructing.

The video then paperwork the process in place when getting the meals package deal. “You get quite a lot of stuff and might save 50-60 per cent on groceries.” Up to now 4 months, the video has garnered over 11,000 views.

Food bank items
A screenshot from a YouTube video about accessing meals banks as a world pupil. Photograph by YouTube screenshot

“That is horrible. Stealing meals from the mouths of poor, disabled, and aged Canadians,” notes one response. One other wrote, “Individuals making harsh judgments ought to perceive that college students typically go hungry or are caught consuming low-quality meals. This is usually a professional declare and these movies may be useful. That mentioned, a lot of the meals can be supposed for the destitute and hopeless. So please avoid wasting for them.”

Worldwide college students, who pay considerably increased tuition charges than their Canadian counterparts, have more and more been within the information as complaints a few lack of housing and affordability have some governmental officers suggesting Canada contemplate capping international pupil visas.

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In line with authorities knowledge, there have been practically 808,000 worldwide college students enrolled in Canada on the finish of December 2022, marking a year-over-year improve of greater than 30 per cent.

That development is in keeping with years prior. A 2020 report from International Affairs Canada discovered long-term worldwide college students in Canada grew 16.3 per cent from 2017 to 2018, with college students from India contributing probably the most to the general improve.

In line with info from the federal authorities, worldwide college students contribute greater than $22.3 billion per yr to the Canadian financial system.

Whereas the prices of post-secondary training have elevated throughout the board within the final yr, on common, worldwide undergraduate college students pay 429 per cent greater than Canadian college students, whereas worldwide graduate college students pay 184 per cent extra.

This marks a big improve since 2007, when worldwide graduate college students paid 106 per cent greater than Canadian college students and undergraduate college students paid 204 per cent extra, in line with Statistics Canada.

Meals banks noticed record-breaking numbers in 2022 and that development seems to have continued in 2023. Free to entry, meals banks depend on donations and are sometimes utilized by these on incapacity or people who’re unemployed or underemployed.

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Food bank line up
Meals banks noticed record-breaking numbers in 2022 and that development seems to have continued in 2023. Photograph by YouTube screenshot

Earlier this week, the Ottawa Meals Financial institution mentioned it was compelled to chop shifts for volunteers on account of a scarcity of donated meals. It attributes the shortage to excessive meals costs, which the group says “are understandably impacting donor habits.”

The meals financial institution apologized to volunteers who had their shifts cancelled in an announcement on Monday. The group supplies meals to over 100 completely different companies together with small group meals banks, shelters and college meal applications throughout Ottawa.

Meals Banks Canada, which has a community of greater than 500 meals banks throughout Canada, collects private info corresponding to names, addresses and speak to info, in addition to monetary info, which is used to permit customers to register accounts with the group. However they don’t restrict who can entry the service.

Final yr, communication design pupil Kashish Hukku Jani informed The Canadian Press that one cause worldwide college students flip to meals banks is the restrict on the variety of hours they will work. Beforehand, worldwide college students had been restricted to working 20 hours every week, or they confronted the danger of deportation.

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The Canadian authorities quickly elevated that restrict final November and worldwide college students, in some circumstances, might be able to work greater than 20 hours per week till the top of December. It’s unclear if the elevated restrict will proceed after that date.

Earlier this yr, a SaltWire report highlighted that the on-campus meals financial institution at Cape Breton College was attracting extra college students, virtually all of whom are worldwide, and a few might not essentially require the help.

“The meals packages we give out are actually for these in dire want,” mentioned Damanpreet Singh, the college’s pupil union president. “However some (college students) line up who don’t actually require them. And we’re having bother differentiating … we will’t simply take a look at somebody and say, ‘this package deal is for you’ or ‘this package deal is just not for you.’”

Singh added that the coed inhabitants has “grown significantly” and positioned extra demand on the meals financial institution. “We simply can’t sustain,” he mentioned.

In March, the volunteer-run meals financial institution started utilizing a web based appointment system, with customers filling in kinds earlier than being assigned a pickup date.

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Singh mentioned the system cuts down on lineups and in addition ensures the meals financial institution is getting used correctly.

“It’s not a spot to get free groceries,” Singh mentioned. “I feel we have to educate individuals extra that the service is for many who are in larger want. We now have to cease this misuse.”

On the opposite aspect of the nation, Alberta noticed about double the demand for meals from college students this previous educational yr, in comparison with the yr prior, in line with CBC.

“This yr has been fairly a shock,” mentioned Erin O’Neil, govt director of the Campus Meals Financial institution on the College of Alberta. “The final college yr from September 2022 to April 2023, we noticed greater than double the demand of the earlier yr.”

It seems the difficulty isn’t just restricted to Canada, nevertheless, as using meals banks has soared globally for the reason that onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The UN estimates that 122 million extra individuals are actually going through starvation, in comparison with 2019.

— With information from The Canadian Press

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