Queen’s students launch Soul Food to support Kingston shelters
Getting organized to begin delivering excess food portions from Queen’s University residence dining halls to people in local street shelters seven nights a week, a coalition of Queen’s students is working to raise awareness about Canadians living in poverty.
Soul Food organizes volunteer students to pick up the excess food at 8:30 p.m., just after the dining halls close and the local shelters open for the evening.
“The timing is perfect,” says Phil Sparks, Resident District Manager of Food Services at Queen’s. “There is always some excess food when we close the dining halls. We wrap it, take a temperature check when the students arrive to pick it up, and it’s at the shelter within a few minutes of leaving the dining hall.”
At no extra cost to the university, Soul Food eliminates food waste that is otherwise inevitable, promoting responsible food consumption.”
Initiated by a group of students from Queen’s Hillel (Jewish Students Association) and led by fourth-year students Sheri Krell and Tyler Peikes working with Queen’s Outreach Coordinator Marija Linjacki, Soul Food made two trial runs last spring to the Street Mission Truck parked on the corner of Clergy and Princess Streets in Kingston’s downtown.
“The response was so overwhelmingly positive we wanted to do it seven nights a week this year,” says Ms Krell, Soul Food Co-chair.
Realizing the program would need more volunteers, Soul Food put out a call to Queen’s clubs. “The response was great, with seven clubs committing immediately and several more considering a commitment,” she adds.
In addition to Hillel, student groups in the Soul Food coalition include: Queen’s University Muslim Students Association, Students Helping Others Understand Tolerance, Students Against Indifference, Queen’s Asian Focus, the United Way and Volunteer Crew of the Alma Mater Society’s Municipal Affairs Commission, Arts and Science Undergraduate Society and students from Women’s Studies Gender and Poverty class.
Soul Food is seen partly as an opportunity to build bridges between students and the Kingston community while also fostering an understanding of the shared values amongst various clubs at Queen’s.
“What we find amazing is how similar our values are to the other groups involved,” says Tyler Peikes, of Queen’s Hillel and co-chair of Soul Food. “I am astounded at how diverse we are as students from different backgrounds. In the face of the racism and intolerance that can hurt people because of their differences, it is important to celebrate the values that we all share as Canadians and human beings and Soul Food is just one example of this convergence of humanity that we wish to cultivate.”
While the program has a primary commitment to the Street Mission Truck where they deliver food first, the co-chairs maintain a list of local shelters and take remaining food to a different one each night.
“SoulFood is making a difference to those who come to the Street Truck for food, warmth, and a sense of community,” says Street Truck Mission Coordinator Darcy Izzard.
The extended program that will deliver food seven nights a week launches formally on Tuesday, October 23.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Communications Assistants Alissa Clark, 613 533-6000, ext. 77513, firstname.lastname@example.org or Molly Kehoe, 613 533-2877, email@example.com, Queen’s News and Media Services.
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