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15. Addressing Food Insecurity Among Post-Secondary Students At The University of Ottawa - Food Bursary Program

15. Choosing Ramen Noodles or Gas?

Institution: University of Ottawa

CSWB plan priority: Integrated and simpler systems

Project Term: Fall 2023

Course Code: SCS3130

Professor: Joseph Sawan

Group Members: Maxine Cynthia Mason, Claudia Stoke, Jerry Wang


Background: Our project seeks to provide solutions at the community level to help address food insecurity for all post-secondary. Through reallocating unused scholarship and bursary funds as identified through a thorough financial analysis of the University of Ottawa's ongoing fiscal plan, our goal is remove the financial barriers that prevent access to healthy food for students. Our proposal aims to accomplish this by creating a food bursary program that can be applied for every semester just like students would for other forms of financial aid.

Objective(s): The overarching goal of this project is to address the financial causes of food insecurity among post-secondary students by bridging financial accessibility issues.    The actionable goals of this project are as follows:  -Limit the financial stress on the University's current debt load through sourcing the funding for the meal plan bursary from existing unused bursary or scholarship pools  -Remove students' financial barriers to food/meal plan access  -Ensure the continuing financial sustainability of the bursary program by identifying a manageable long-term funding source  -Provide continual funding for students to enshrine regular access to food throughout the semester and school year.

Approach: The steps taken were as follows:  -Examined barriers that students face when accessing foods,   reviewed possible sources of funding.  -Based on the results of our findings, opted to utilize existing bursary/scholarship funds to prevent further deterioration of the University's finances/to avoid increasing the already excessive debt load.    Barriers/problems encountered:  -Difficulty with pin-pointing exactly how the meal plan/funds would be allocated, which we analyzed based off of models of similar programs at other universities in Canada. Many worked and many did not.   -Through comparing other existing meal plan bursary programs, we structured two possible pathways through which the University could distribute meal plan bursaries to students, either of which could ensure the project's goals are met.

Potential for Impact: The potential impact would be that students at the post secondary levels of education would be able to access bursaries that would remove the financial barriers they face in accessing food throughout their post-secondary education. The manner in which our plan is designed allows for neither the students nor the universities to bear the debt load of the costs associated with our meal plan as the funding is already there is excess - students just need to apply.    It also allows for no additional annual increase in donations/government/organizational financial support - as it is assumed that they already have their annual funds that they allocate within their means/budget.


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