OSAP funding leaves students hungry
From Mar. 8 to 26, seven students from across the province will participate in the Food For Thought Campaign run by the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) to advocate for better funding.
The students will be living on $7.50 to represent the mere $226 per month food and nutrition allocation prescribed by the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).
“We’re really working to draw attention to the fact that currently the Ontario Student Assistance Program is chronically underfunded and does far too little to support students,” said Dan Moulton, president of OUSA.
The participating students will share the difficulties of their experience over the course of the three weeks through blog entries, video blogs and other elements of social media posted on OUSA’s website.
Wilfrid Laurier University student Nick Gibson is participating in the campaign to raise awareness about the difficulties students have in funding their education.
“We can’t be just giving out money with no sort of responsibility and I understand that from the government’s point of view, however, students have to focus on academics,” said Gibson.
“For them to have to take time out of their lives to worry about how they’re going to get food, let alone the other little things that come up. That certainly wears on you.”
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet with the additional complications of spending hours away from home and on campus is no easy task on such a tight budget.
“Sometimes it may come to the point where I have to skip a meal. That’s the sort of thing we’re trying to point out, that no matter how frugal you try to be at some points it’s going to be unhealthy,” said Gibson.
Treating food as a social excursion will be near impossible with such little money to spend.
“The idea is just to limit going out as much as possible,” said Gibson. “Any time I go out, even to Wilf’s … I’ve just got to totally basically eliminate and be a really, really shrewd grocery shopper.”
Groceries will be the most effective way for students to sustain themselves, since fast food– even on campus– will not ensure enough meals in a day with only $7.50 to spend.
“The realistic nature of this campaign is that we’re demonstrating that of course students can’t live off so little per day in food and nutrition allocation,” explained Moulton.
The food allocation is only one of the areas that OUSA has noted failures in the method which OSAP calculates the needs of students.
“When you calculate from whereever– academic materials, the cost of living, the weekly allowance– these are figures that are drastically lower than they need to be and we need to see our government stepping up and investing in this program,” said Moulton.
“Hopefully we’ll see some change in the right places,” said Gibson.
The cost of food at Laurier
Gourmet burger and fries
Small pasta salad
Chicken Caesar pita
Big meatball sub
One fresh fruit
*Price before tax