Co-operatives help students eat healthy, on a budget.
It’s estimated that about 40% of Montrealers don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables within 500 square-metres of their homes.
Many students live on a very tight budget, and their diet suffers from it. How many students spend weeks — even months — eating nothing but ramen noodles or rice and beans? Eating three meals a day that are fresh, nutritious, and balanced is a feat that few budget-conscious students can achieve. And the problem gets worse towards the end of the month, when savings start to get tight.
Montreal is the second most food-insecure city in Canada. It’s estimated that about 40% of Montrealers don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables within 500 square-metres of their homes.
To try to meet this crying need, especially among the student population, a number of groups have chosen to head straight for the source and set up on Montreal campuses. Their common mission: to provide a healthy meal to anyone who needs it.
Midnight Kitchen has been serving students at McGill University since 2002. The organization was born out of some students’ desire to provide an alternative to the costly food options that existed on campus.
At Concordia University, there’s The People’s Potato, a collectively managed soup kitchen that also offers meals in exchange of voluntary contributions.
On the UQAM campus, students created Ras-le-Bol, an organization that serves food and that offers access to communal kitchens, where users can cook economical meals that they then bring home.
All three of these organizations serve vegan meals throughout the year, so no student or faculty member will have to neglect their diet just because they are short of money. In addition to promoting better eating habits and to contributing to the wellbeing of the student population, these organizations also try to use local products as much as possible, both to stimulate the local economy and to minimize their carbon footprint.
Students and the universities themselves are really enthusiastic about having these organizations on their campuses. By proving that it’s possible to do a lot with very little, COOPs like these transform their community, one meal at a time.