Can you really eat for free for a week on campus?

Concordia offers plenty of free food, snacks and drinks… if you know where to look!

As the cost of groceries soars with inflation, food insecurity among students cannot be overlooked. This past week, I challenged myself to visit and document places on campus where you can find free food and snacks. I hope this project will encourage you to take what you need, but also to give what you can. These resources are there for you, so take advantage if you need them! 

The Community Cravings Pantry in the Hall building, the community fridge and the grocery table offered by the Student Centre at the Loyola campus run on donations. If you can leave something, it’s always appreciated because food disappears quickly! Many other services such as the People’s Potato and The Hive Free Lunch are run by volunteers and also accept donations. 

Many events on campus offer free food or snacks, making it a great way to meet new people while grabbing a bite to eat. Another goal of this project is to help students find community through food. Spaces like NouLa and Centre pour étudiant·es francophones offer free snacks and allow students to connect with their community in a welcoming, safe space. Take a look at my week of investigating free eats on campus!

This project uses Alternative (Alt) Text to make the photos accessible to the visually impaired by “convey[ing] the ‘why’ of the image as it relates to the content of a document or webpage. It is read-aloud to users by screen reader software, and it is indexed by search engines.”

Community Cravings Pantry H-725

The Community Cravings Pantry is located on the 7th floor of the Hall Building. The pantry accepts non-perishable, unopened goods. Students can take anything they want. When I visited, there were some applesauce squeeze packets and granola bars. Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt text: Two tall, white cabinets with the doors open to reveal some groceries like pasta and snacks on the shelves. To the right, there is an empty fridge.

People’s Potato H-700

The People’s Potato offers vegan lunches prepared free of cost or available by donation Monday through Wednesday at room H-700. They also offer Emergency Food Baskets throughout the semester. Make sure to follow their Instagram for regular updates! I had a delicious and filling “MexiCali” stew when I stopped by. Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt text: A white person’s hand holding a plastic container filled with a stew with potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and black beans. Behind, is a glass divider with “People’s Potato” written with colourful markers and a hand holding a potato.

Centre pour étudiant·es francophones H-608.02

The Centre pour étudiant·es francophones is a place where francophone students at Concordia can hang out, grab a coffee or tea and meet their peers. Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt text: A table with a coffee maker, mugs, coffee pods, and tea sits in front of a colourful corkboard with various flyers and posters pinned to it.

The Centre pour étudiant·es francophones is also open to students who are interested in practising their French. They have a selection of teas, coffee and snacks available for students. Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt text: From left to right there are some mini chocolate bars, apples, granola bars and pastries.

The Hive Free Breakfast SC-200 7141 Sherbrooke West

The Hive Free Breakfast is vegetarian with vegan options and is served from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and again from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt text: A small hand scoops from a big pot of oatmeal. There is a red oven mitt to the right.

You might be able to get a sneak peek of what The Hive Free Breakfast will be serving for the day if you follow their Instagram account. Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt text: A plate of granola, oatmeal and honeydew melon on a wooden table. Blue and green chairs and sofas are visible in the background.

The Hive Free Lunch SC-200 7141 Sherbrooke West

The Hive Free Lunch is always vegan and is served 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. There was gluten-free bread available along with the lentil eggplant stew when I went. They even offer a second helping of their tasty meal at 1:15 p.m. if there are leftovers! Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt text: Two bowls of lentil eggplant stew with some parsley and pomegranate seeds on top, served with a piece of bread. In the background, there is a big metal container of cookies and bread.

Community Fridge and Grocery Table SC-200 7141 Sherbrooke West

Groceries and snacks are taken very quickly from the Community Fridge and Grocery Table at SC-200, so it’s obvious that students are using the service. If you brought an extra snack to school or have some cans sitting in the cupboard at home, why not bring them? Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt text: Two mini-fridges, a white shelf with dishware, a bookcase filled with books and the grocery table with a couple of cans visible.

Le Frigo Vert 1440 Mackay St.

Le Frigo Vert has free microgreens, Pay What You Can (PWYC) tea and sometimes other free food, like this Bean & Barley soup mix! They also host lots of events and workshops, some of which also offer free food. Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt text: A table with bags of beans and soup ingredients, a handmade sign that says “FREE” and “Bean & Barley soup” recipes. A post-it note says “FREE SOUP MIX! TAKE A RECIPE.”


Spirituali-Tea 2090 Mackay St.

I attended the Spirituali-Tea event at the Multi-faith and Spirituality Centre where there was coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cookies and other baked goods. Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt text: A black basket full of boxes of tea, hot chocolate, coffee maker and mugs.

The Multi-faith and Spirituality Centre hosts many events with free food such as the Pre-Exam Breakfast and Community Meals. They also have an Instagram account where they post frequent updates. Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt: A room in the Multi-faith and Spirituality Centre office. There is a black leather couch, a bulletin board with some flyers and “Welcome” written in blue letters. There is a small bookcase, a water cooler and a bit of the kitchen is visible in the background.

Concordia Canadian Asian Society Takeover: Pop-up event

This was a small event where people could learn about the club, meet peers and learn how to make sago dessert soup. It was great to talk to the executives of Concordia’s Canadian Asian Society about their vision for the club and hopes for future events. I was also excited to try sago dessert soup for the first time! These events are great for meeting new people, but also for trying new things. Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt text: Five Asian students sit and stand around a white table. A large container of sago dessert soup (which is white, with small clear coloured pearls) is on the table along with many colourful stickers and candies.

The Concordia Canadian Asian Society hosted a pop-up event where they shared sago dessert soup and explained how to make it at home. Check out their Instagram account for future events! Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt text: A white person’s hand holds a compostable cup filled with a white soup, which contains clear sago pearls. Some stickers are visible on the table in the background.

Tea Around the World by CUTEA

Although this event only had tea, students could make one on the spot and take extra sachets/tea bags for later! CUTEA hosts many events throughout the year many of which offer food, so check out their Instagram account to stay informed. Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt text: A table with a white tablecloth and a poster that says “CUTEA Concordia University Tea Enthusiast Association” has tea boxes and tea bags on display.

For Black Concordia Students, NouLa Lounge H-773

The NouLa Lounge is accessible to all students registered with the NouLa Centre for Black Students. Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt text: A frosted glass wall which says “773.00 THE NOULA CENTRE FOR BLACK STUDENTS”. There are also some events written in colourful markers.

A wide selection of tea, coffee and yummy snacks is available in the NouLa Student Lounge. Registered students can study, make new friends, play board games or just hang out. Photo by Hope Cornell / The Concordian

Alt text: A white basket with cookies and Bear Paws is next to a clear container with popcorn and other snacks. They are on a black wood table.


The Hive takes action following Provigo scandal

The Hive’s most recent steps to reduce the gap between affordable food and accessibility on campus.

On Jan. 13, Provigo announced they’ll no longer be offering 50 percent off for soon-to-expire foods, but rather 30 percent, causing public outrage across the country. Then, on Friday Jan. 19, the big food chain reversed their decision. 

Following these two confusing and controversial weeks at Provigo, The Hive is offering all students access to food without any financial barriers through their bi-annual grocery program, which is an expansion of the Hive’s Free Lunch and Breakfast program.

Alanna Silver, the Hive’s Free Lunch program coordinator, is frustrated that big food chains aren’t taking concrete action to better manage their food prices. 

“[Big grocers] are making this huge amount of profit while everyone else is really struggling and it shouldn’t be like that in a country that’s as developed as we are,” Silver said.

Sliver started the Hive’s bi-annual grocery program in December 2021 for students who cannot afford groceries at other food chains. The grocery program uses donations from food banks, their community fridge and ‘Enough,’ a waste sorting education company that also tries to reduce food waste. These donations provide canned goods, gluten-free options, fresh produce, halal, kosher and vegan options. This year, Silver expanded the grocery program by providing menstrual products, toothbrushes and toothpaste. 

Any student who picks up groceries from the program does not have to pay for what they buy, which is something Silver advocated for when she started the program.

“[Students] should never have to choose between paying tuition, paying for your textbooks, and paying for your meals—that should never have to be a choice,” Silver said. 

Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax, heard rumors about the announcement in December. He contacted Loblaws two weeks ago to confirm the rumor and later published the news on social media. Loblaws’ reason to reduce their discount was to match their competitors. “It was really the earmark of a really major PR crisis for Loblaws. Because you dealt with food affordability, food waste,” Charlebois said. 

According to the 2023 Canada Food Price report, the food prices forecast predicted that costs would rise by five to seven per cent. Charlebois confirmed that the housing crisis plays a big role in affordability. He believes that the big grocer wanted to limit how they were using their discounts. 

“People are forced to spend more to make sure they keep a roof over their heads, so they have less money to spend at the grocery store,” Charlebois said. “My guess is that Loblaws saw a lot of their demand shift towards these discounted products and they wanted to stop that. They wanted to protect margins as much as possible.”

Sylvain hopes that other large food markets such as Metro, IGA and Sobeys will see Loblaw’s discount charge as an opportunity to revisit their own discount numbers for their consumers. 

Matteo Di Giovanni, a second-year film production student, not only noticed the change in prices, but also the quantity of food in the packaging. As someone who’s celiac, Di Giovanni deals with expensive prices already with gluten-free products—now he’s facing the reduction of the quantity he’s getting.

“I’m not surprised,” Di Giovanni said. “It just sucks that I’m paying the same price for less food and I’m already paying a lot for gluten-free, so it’s a bit disappointing.”

Even though his parents do most of the groceries, he still worries about food affordability in the future. 

“When I start being more financially independent, it’s going to have a bigger toll on my spending and it’s kind of sucky, everything on top of just regular inflation,” Di Giovanni said.

Di Giovanni recently changed his diet over the break; he started going to the grocery store with his parents to pick out which products will be accessible and better for his diet. As worried as he is about his future with groceries, he’s already asking himself the right questions while he’s at the store. 

While big grocery stores are causing anxiety amongst students and other consumers, The Hive is one of the many organizations at Concordia that are providing relief in the university community.

The Hive believes in providing nutritional, healthy, and diverse meals for everyone to perform better in their studies and not worry about their next grocery bill. “Feeding people is our love language,” Silver said. 

Silver plans to continue the bi-annual grocery program for many years to come and encourage food education towards students.

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