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.

Student Life

Tips on taking the dive into the dumpster

A discussion about the food industry through the dos and the don’ts of dumpster diving

When faced with the idea of diving into a dumpster to collect dinner, some may think ew. In our society, garbage is thought of as filthy. So, naturally, a stigma surrounds the dumpster diving practice. But think again.

On March 10, Concordia students Isabella Donati-Simmons and Aven Fisher organized a workshop to talk about the art of ‘diving.’

The workshop, coordinated by Les Échelles, a collective with a focus on a sharing lifestyle, explored the dos and don’ts of the practice, as well as the larger problem of food waste in Canada. The event gathered about 30 people, half of them already experienced divers.

“We are not experts. We are just avid dumpster divers,” Fisher said to start off the workshop.

The participants and organizers discussed major problems surrounding food waste in Canada and around the world. From consumer standards of food aesthetics to transportation and transnational agreements, to the lack of personal connection with food, participants discussed some of the reasons they felt food waste is such a big problem. “The food system is an extremely complex web. It is not just a straight line,” Fisher said.

In Canada, $31 billion worth of food is wasted each year, according to a 2014 report from Value Chain Management International, a global company aiming to improve the efficiency of food chains. This marks a 15 per cent increase from 2010. The same study shows that 47 per cent of this waste comes from individuals in their homes. “It makes you wonder why some are still starving or food insecure, especially the First Nations peoples,” Donati-Simmons said.

Fisher and Donati-Simmons went through “the dumpster rules.” According to the organizers, divers shouldn’t necessarily look at the best-before dates on unopened products and packages. They say it is more important to rely on smell and look instead.

Some products contaminated by mold are still edible. The U.S Department of Agriculture established a list of food which can still be eaten if moldy. This includes hard cheese, firm vegetables, and salami. Donati-Simmons recommends cutting about an inch around and under the mold.

Dumpster divers should equip themselves with a light, preferably a head lamp, gloves and reusable bags. The best places to dive are around small grocery stores or bakeries. The organizers also recommended paying attention to garbage day schedules and store owners’ garbage habits. Fisher also pointed out that it is important not to take more than you need, with respect to other divers.

While the practice is not illegal, it is illegal to trespass. “Most tenants are okay with it and will indicate where to look or even give you wastes, but don’t leave it messy,” Fisher said.

“The best thing is to be respectful [as divers],” Donati-Simmons added.

To clean food collected on a diving trip, a bath of water and vinegar or dish soap does the trick. It must be naturally air-dried before refrigeration to avoid spores during storage. The food can then be prepared or frozen after being dried. The most common uses of recollected food are in soups, jams, smoothies, kimchi or as dried fruit.

The workshop was followed by a diving initiation in the Plateau and a meal at Donati-Simmons’ and Fisher’s house with the recollected food.

“Dumpster diving is sharing, finding new uses, changing the waste culture and realising what our society does,” Donati-Simmons said.

Graphic by Thom Bell

Student Life

Get green groceries at Le Frigo Vert

Concordia co-op invites you to come in and shop or just sit and stay awhile.

“Are you a member of the co-op?”

Good news is, as a Concordia student, you automatically are. Members, in addition to being vital parts of the community that keeps the co-op running, also benefit from 20 per cent off everything in store.

Minutes after opening the doors, Ms. Forti alternates between serving customers and stocking the chip shelves.

It’s the coffee that draws in the first clients. The co-op’s members are mostly students, and at 50 cents to fill a reusable cup, it’s cheap.

Photo by Sara Baron-Goodman.

Le Frigo Vert doesn’t exist to make a profit. It began over 20 years ago as a bulk food buying group and expanded to a store where it can best serve its mandate: provide affordable, organic food and environmentally-friendly products to students on campus. They keep their mark-ups low and their shelves stocked.

By the time the doors have been open for half an hour, the store has a steady stream of customers buying everything from sprouting seeds to organic cotton tampons. The convenient location just steps away from the Hall building, good prices, and high quality products are what bring in members.

It’s not just their regular weekly groceries that members can buy here.

“There aren’t a lot of spaces downtown where you can just hang out without having to buy anything,” Forti said. The co-op’s back room fills that need. Boasting a kitchen to heat up your lunch, a fully stocked bookshelf to peruse, and a newly renovated seating area, the lounge space is also home to workshops throughout the year.

“It’s fun to work in a store that also has a mandate to put on a workshop series every year,” Forti said. Past events have included anti-colonial dinners, DIY lotion and cosmetics workshops, and information on herbal remedies. Planning for this year’s workshop schedule is underway.

Le Frigo works with organizations around the city dedicated towards important causes such as food justice and the fight against poverty. In the summer months, it’s a drop-off point for local farms’ Community Supported Agriculture baskets. Leftover vegetables are purchased from the farms and sold in the co-op.

The clientele at le Frigo Vert is mostly made up of students. Since they are a fee-levy group, Concordia students are automatically members. Membership for non-Concordia students costs $15 per year.

The community feel of the place is apparent. This isn’t a store that’s set out to pay for a CEO’s yacht. “We’re a collective,” Forti said. “So many people rely on us for their groceries. It’s really important that we have what they need when they need it.”

If you’re interested in getting involved, send an email to They regularly hold volunteer orientations.

Le Frigo Vert is located at 2130 Mackay St.

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