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by Archives September 30, 2008

The Concordia Student Union is planning to open its own food bank next month, to feed “starving” students.
At first glance, feeding the hungry seems like a noble effort, but in reality it’s a needless service for which there is no demand. While many students like to play poor, there are few among us who would actually qualify as poor by any standard. The mere fact that we attend a Canadian university puts us among the world’s, and Canada’s, elite, and guarantees that the majority of us will end up with jobs giving us incomes in the world’s top 10 per cent.
Like many students, we here at The Concordian have had days when there is no money in the bank and no food in the cupboard. But like the majority of students, we know that our next meal is just a phone call to our parents away.
For those of us who don’t have this luxury, Concordia already provides food aid through the multi-faith chaplaincy and the financial aid office.
The fact is that as Concordia students, we already enjoy a wealth of cheap and free food (irrespective of need) subsidized through fee levies: cheaper groceries at Le Frigo Vert, lunch at the People’s Potato, or the Loyola Luncheon. While this is not enough to live off of, it can certainly stretch the food budget of a student working a part-time job, or relying on government or bank student loans.
For the few students for whom these services are not enough, there are the services provided to our city’s legitimately poor: government social service and charity-run food banks and soup kitchens.
Since this food bank is not answering a real demand, it’s likely that most of its frequent users will be students who blew their food money on booze, and CSU executives who will use it as a lobbying tool. Setting up this food bank will allow the CSU to argue that Concordia’s “high” tuition fees (still among the lowest in Canada) are causing so much hardship to students that they are forced to rely on a food bank or face impending starvation. It’s a shame – the money behind this cynical venture and the food that will be distributed by it could easily go to help feed some of Montreal’s 30,000 homeless (or the many more working poor), rather than the wealthy elite’s children.

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