The Food Support Fund is an emergency fund created by PSAC 901 in response to the increasing food insecurity of Graduate Student Workers at Queen’s University. Inflation, the cost of living crisis, and a 10.3 percent spike in grocery prices across Canada, have haunted headlines for months now. What’s worse, Canada’s Food Price Report 2023 predicts a further 5 percent to 7 percent food price increase in 2023. Graduate student workers, like other low-income community members, are severely impacted by these staggering increases.
As early as 2021, people aged 18 to 30 accounted for 15.5 percent of Ontario residents receiving service from Food Banks Canada. This is, of course, the age group a majority of graduate student workers fall under, and we see these numbers reflected in our membership. Moreover, as of January 14, 2023, the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Kingston, ON is $1,699 which means a nearly 30 percent increase as compared to the previous year. This explains how 73 percent of the income of the lowest income group is spent on rent and utilities. We are the lowest-income group! Having been unable to bargain for higher wages under Doug Ford’s scandalous and unconstitutional Bill 124, graduate student workers struggle to make ends meet while maintaining the excellent work and research standards that Queen’s publically prides itself in. Exacerbating the issue, Queen’s own approximate cost of living and tuition totals exceeds the funding that the university pays our members, its employees and students.
In a commitment to improving food security for our members, PSAC 901 is allocating an emergency budget of $3000 to purchase forty $75 grocery gift cards to redistribute among graduate student workers in need. We are aware of other food support options available on campus, however, we believe our members deserve maximum autonomy in their food choices, something that grocery gift cards allow.
Forty gift cards can only help forty members, though, and the reality is that Queen’s funding deficit and the cost of living crisis mean many more of our nearly 3,000 members are facing dire financial straits. We want to offer more meaningful help to more folks in need, and that’s why we are asking for your donation. With your support, we hope to maintain the Food Support Fund through the end of the Winter term, offering even greater help to all Graduate Student Workers experiencing need.
In solidarity and thanks,
We are a Directly-Charted Local of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, made up of Graduate Teaching Assistants, Teaching Fellows, Research Assistants, and Postdoctoral Scholars at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
Our non-profit organization is committed to promoting equity and social justice within our membership, PSAC, Queen’s University, and the broader Kingston community. We strive to protect, maintain, and advance the interests of our members as we fight for these goals.