The Hive Café’s new initiative will offer a daily free vegan breakfast starting this fall to fight food insecurity.
In ASFA’s March 2023 elections, students voted in favour of a fee levy increase to the Hive Café Loyola Free Lunch program. These funds will be used to implement a new breakfast program starting this fall, providing free breakfast at the Loyola campus five days a week.
“The team here, myself included, are really passionate about feeding students,” said Alanna Silver, the Free Lunch program coordinator. She also noted that few free breakfast options are available in NDG compared to the downtown campus.
The Hive Café Co-op aims to serve breakfast to at least 100 people a day, as they already serve 250 through their free lunch program.
“We’re really passionate about creating a sense of community. It’s not just serving a meal,”Silver Said.
One in 10 people cannot afford fresh food in Montreal, according to Centraide du Grand Montréal, and in 2022 Les Banques Alimentaires du Québec reported that 671,000 people in Quebec receive food assistance every month.
Silver explained how studies demonstrate that students retain their learning better when they’ve eaten their first meal of the day.
The Hive’s vegan options have allowed a greater proportion of students to benefit from their menu, regardless of religion or dietary restrictions. The team hopes to serve vegan meals as well, although Silver concedes that most breakfasts contain animal products.
“[Our] choices are limited to smoothies, oatmeal and bread. So there was definitely some big debate on whether we should do vegetarian or vegan breakfast,” she said.
The Hive will continue to produce vegan meals in-house. The increased fee levy will cover the added food, labour and equipment costs.
The project began development in mid-February, and the Hive team believes it will be fully implemented by the end of the year. The ASFA election results in March helped increase their funding by $0.25 per credit to support the project.
The team launched a promotional campaign around the university through social media posts, graphics and posters to get the word out.
With the new project’s financial needs covered, the Hive’s next challenge will be managing their space.
“We’re trying to currently figure out how we’re going to share a kitchen because obviously we’ll be doubling the staff, doubling the production, doubling the amount of equipment we need,” Silver said.
In a previous version of this article, the Hive Free Breakfast program was referred to as the first free breakfast program in Canada. Both MacEwan University and Mount Royal University have free breakfast programs that predate the Hive Free Breakfast.