The Unified Support Centre’s (USC) Emergency Essentials Assistance Program provides hampers of food, personal hygiene items, feminine hygiene products, and safer sex supplies to students in need through a tiered, needs-based system with both a pick-up and delivery option. We support both undergraduate and graduate students.

Pre-pandemic, the Carleton University Student’s Association’s (CUSA) Food Centre received an average of 88 hamper requests per month. When the Food Centre partnered with Foot Patrol to restart the Emergency Essentials Assistance Program service by providing no-contact deliveries in November 2020, hamper requests began increasing. By Winter 2020, Foot Patrol was delivering an average of 127 hampers per month. 

In Fall 2021, USC’s first semester operating as a centralized department, we received an average of 165 hamper requests per month.

During the Winter 2022 semester, the average was 270.

In September 2022, it was 426.

In October 2022, 488.

In November 2022, 577.

Requests for these hampers have jumped over 400% from last year with the cost of a hamper also rising to approximately $30 each. Each hamper is designed to support a student with their food and essentials-related needs for at least a week. At this time, demand is substantially exceeding the current Ottawa Food Bank and community donations, requiring substantial supplementary purchases.

We urgently need your support to purchase sufficient food and essentials to meet the current needs of the Carleton University community.

The Background

The USC’s Emergency Essentials Assistance Program is dedicated to supporting students experiencing food insecurity during their academic careers. 

Our delivery option provides hampers of food and essentials directly to students’ places of residence anywhere in and around Ottawa for individuals who don’t have an in-person class that ends after 2:00 PM, ensuring the service’s accessibility. Our Enhanced Assistance service tier supports students in urgent need with additional hampers (up to 4 per month), customized products for their needs, and Carleton University Caf meal passes provided by Aramark following an application process.

The USC also offers portable shopping carts for students that require or prefer assistance in transporting their hampers home.

USC staff are completing weekly (and sometimes, twice per week) Costco Business Centre trips to maintain a minimum service standard, purchasing essentials such as rice, pasta, canned soup, bread, eggs, and milk in bulk. Increased usage volumes have recently begun requiring the USC team to supplement weekly trips by renting UHaul trucks on a bi-monthly basis. Truck rentals are used to transport pallets of staples to the Unified Support Centre, as required product quantities were exceeding the weight limits of the USC team’s personal vehicles. The USC also recently purchased another 8 portable shopping carts to meet usage-driven demand.

The Rollout

Funds will be used to purchase the food, essentials, and reusable bags necessary to create the USC’s hampers, helping us meet students’ current demand for the service while we pursue long-term funding solutions. 

A portion of funds will also be used to purchase additional fridge and freezer capacity, supporting the USC’s approved move to its new, larger office in UC 132 during summer 2023. Increasing cold item capacity will help ensure the USC’s sustainability, as we will be able to receive and store larger shipments of perishable items for distribution.

The Impact

A combination of COVID-19, inflation, and global uncertainty has had the greatest impact on already vulnerable Carleton University students from marginalized and racialized communities.

Our Emergency Essentials Assistance Program has broken service usage records on a near-monthly basis since the USC was created. Current demand significantly exceeds the Ottawa Food Bank’s capabilities to support us, and additional funds are needed to maintain the program’s viability in the short to medium term.

While CUSA awarded the USC a supplementary funding package of $64,145.95 in August 2022 and recently negotiated Graduate Student Association financial support, remaining funds are nearing depletion.

Your contribution will support the USC in offering consistent, reliable, and direct food and essentials related support to all Carleton University students in need while we pursue sustainable funding solutions to meet current needs.

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