“Every year I’ve been at Durham, I’ve applied for the Christmas hamper,” says Emily Marangon, a student in the Office Administration Executive program.
Marangon says the Annual Campus Food Drive has helped her and her family.
“Last year, it helped a lot. I have two kids, one is four, and another is two, and it’s just me and them, with all the other bills that everyone else has too,” she says. “It basically made sure we had food on the table until January.”
Since before 2000, Durham College has had an annual food drive, where they help out students who cannot put food on the table. The college usually gets food hampers ready then delivers them to students’ homes the Sunday before Christmas.
“It basically made sure we had food to eat. If it wasn’t for that, we probably wouldn’t have,” says Marangon.
This year things took a bit of a turn due to COVID-19.
Instead of their annual food hampers, the chair of the food drive, Kevin Griffin, says the decision has been made to have a Campus Food Drive Bursary.
“This year we weren’t able to do what we have done in the past for obvious reasons, so we met as soon as we could in the fall to try and figure out our plan moving forward,” says Griffin, who got involved in 2010 for the first time and became chair in 2018.
Griffin, is a professor in the Paramedics program, says DC has historically partnered with the Kinsmen, a local charity organization, and that students would register for hampers through the Durham College website.
The hampers included turkey, beans, as well as bread and have been made available to students at both DC and Ontario Tech.
In 2018, Griffin says the annual food drive provided 105 hampers filled with food and goodies for over 100 DC students. Almost every year, over 100 hampers have been delivered.
Griffin says this year they may run into a problem.
“Everything that we did was essentially based on people being on campus,” he says.
This year, money was raised through the Campus Food Drive Bursary website.
The deadline to sign up for assistance was Dec. 11, but donations are still being accepted through Durham College’s website.
The bursary is dependent on how the fundraising goes.
“We had over 400 students apply,”says Griffin, “but I am not sure how many qualified based on the parameters we set for this bursary.”
Unfortunately, this year was a bit more difficult for Marangon whose two children who were on a waitlist for daycare. She had to quit her job to stay home full time with the kids, all while attending DC online.
Before COVID-19, she says she worked at a jewelry store part-time and did school to make sure she could put food on the table, although she says it did not fully help.
Lara Loze, a professor in Business and IT management, has helped out with the food drive for more than five years, hand-delivering hampers to students’ homes.
“We take those and actually hand-deliver them, that’s probably the most rewarding part,” says Loze.
Marangon’s story is one of 400. Her family’s struggle with food insecurity will be helped this year despite COVID.
“It’s hundreds of families that we are helping,” says Loze. “It’s more than a turkey dinner.”