April 11, 2024

Student need fuels compassionate competition between UCalgary Senate and Alumni Association

‘Team’ challenge aims to spur support for new student food security fund
Two people stand together in front of a basketball court
Chancellor Cornish and Kate Wong. Trevor Alberts

The University of Calgary Alumni Association (UCAA) and the University of Calgary Senate are squaring off to tackle a serious issue affecting university students — food insecurity. 

To address the growing need, they've launched a friendly competition to raise donations for the newly established UCalgary Student Food Security Fund.

"We’ve heard about the food security challenges that some students face," says Kate Wong, BN’12, UCAA president. "The stereotype of the ramen-eating student is not new, but we know that with the rising cost of food and other necessities, times are especially difficult for many people."

Chancellor Jon Cornish, chair of the senate, echoes Wong's sentiments, highlighting their shared commitment to student well-being. "No student should have to worry about going hungry. This competition is our united response to confront the issue head-on and show our students we’ve got their back."

Survey reveals 20% of UCalgary students experience low to very low food security

The need is real. In 2022, UCalgary took part in the Canadian Campus Wellbeing Survey, which included a section specific to food security. UCalgary students reported differing levels of food security, with 20 per cent falling into the categories of low or very low food security.

In the 2022/23 UCalgary Students’ Union Report to Community, it’s noted that “over the two semesters, 526 hamper requests were completed, up from 227 the previous year. The SU Campus Food Bank fed 723 individuals, including 120 children.”

Wong, a registered nurse who is currently a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Nursing, says the UCAA/senate initiative was prompted by the understanding that students can’t thrive academically if they are grappling with food insecurity. "UCalgary alumni change the world. We want students to be able to focus on their futures beyond where their next meal will come from.”

Team Alumni versus Team Senate

The challenge between the UCAA and the senate, two of the largest volunteer ambassador groups on campus, is also meant to raise awareness about student food insecurity in the wider UCalgary community.

"Tackling food insecurity is not unlike strategizing on the football field. It's not just about the immediate play, but the long-term goal,” says Cornish, a Canadian Football Hall of Famer who led the Calgary Stampeders to two Grey Cup championships. “I understand the value of teamwork and just as we strategize on the field, we need to strategize to address this growing problem.”

Team Senate, led by Cornish, and Team Alumni, led by Wong, are challenging past and present senators and UCAA board/committee members and their networks to donate — with bragging rights going to the team that raises the most money. The challenge, a year-long initiative, launches on Giving Day.

“With this friendly competition, we're making our play against student hunger and inviting the UCalgary community to join the team,” says Cornish. 

“I’m calling on the UCalgary alumni community to help us win!” says Wong. “Besides, how often do you get the chance to challenge a former CFL player to something and actually win?”

So, the question is: are you Team Alumni or Team Senate? Take a side against student food insecurity on Giving Day.

UCalgary Giving Day is April 18. Whether you support research, student awards or another one of UCalgary’s innovative funds, your gift will help change lives and shape the future. Eligible gifts made from April 4-18 will be matched, up to $2,500 per gift, per fund — but only while matching funds last, so be sure to give early! Make your gift today at ucalgary.ca/givingday.

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