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End the Stigma Around Accessing Food

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Nicole Riddle
Communications Assistant
Tue, 06/26/2018 - 14:15

Do you ever worry about not being able to afford groceries, but don’t feel comfortable using a food bank? Feds Student Food Bank wants to end the stigma associated with accessing food banks and encourage everyone who needs their services to use them.

“Our aim is to alleviate any issues around food security, whether those are physical or economical,” said Feds Student Food Bank coordinator Sonia Yung. “I believe that regardless of the situation, students should be able to have access to food.”

Wang and Yung are well aware of the stigma around using food banks, and think that might be why some students don’t come to Feds Student Food Bank even when they need it.

“There’s this whole stigma that the food bank is only for people who have not been successful financially, and people are afraid of appearing this way to others,” said Feds Student Food Bank coordinator Ellie Wang. “There is a stigma that you either spent your money on something else or that you’re living in poverty, so by needing to use the food bank, you’ve somehow failed. But needing some help doesn’t mean you’ve failed at anything.”

All sorts of circumstances can result in needing to use the food bank, like if you run into unexpected or emergency costs, you can’t afford transport to the grocery store, or you’ve studied so late the grocery store is closed and your shelves are bare, Wang said.

The Co-Construction of Shame in the Context of Poverty: Beyond a Threat to the Social Bond explores the stigma around using services like food banks in relations to Alfred Adler’s inferiority complex theory, which describes intensified feelings of inferiority because of failure.[1]

According to this research, services associated with poverty are “inextricably linked to a persistent sense of failure.”[2] Therefore, when using a food bank people fear the feeling of inferiority and appearing inferior to others.

Wang and Yung urge students to challenge this stigma and to access support should they need it. No matter your circumstances, you should never go hungry or let stigma keep you from accessing a service in place to support students.

“Part of your student fees go toward the Feds Student Food Bank Service; it’s there for students to access without fear of stigma or guilt,” said Yung. “All students who need it should use it.”

Feds Student Food Bank is completely confidential and offers a hamper service at the Turnkey Desk so that students can access food even when the Food Bank is not open.

And don’t forget to stop by their Pay What You CAN barbecue on Wednesday, July 4, where students can donate a non-perishable item or pay what you can afford for hot dogs, burgers, and veggie burgers.



[1] Chase, Elaine. “The Co-Construction of Shame in the Context of Poverty: Beyond a Threat to the Social Bond.” Sage Journals, vol. 47, no. 4, 17 Oct. 2012, pp. 739–754. Sociology, British Social Association,

[2] Ibid, 1.