Students helping students

Health and wellness at forefront of campus-based pantry project

6/1/2022 9:45:16 AM

PORT AUX BASQUES, NL – Student need is very real.

With the rising costs of most everything in everyday life, it can be hard for a student to make ends meet at the best of times. But there have been occasions when high costs of some things meant the basics, such as food, were difficult to afford.

College of the North Atlantic (CNA) has been quietly providing food bank-like services for students in need for a little while, but now the college is about to give the service a facelift.

Students from the Cabinetmaker program at Port aux Basques campus have constructed approximately 40 new pantry cabinets for CNA campuses throughout Newfoundland and Labrador thanks to a successful $57,500 funding application under Co-operative Education & Work Integrated Learning (CEWIL) i-Hub projects.
There were many steps from concept to product for the pantry cabinets. Cabinetmaker program students and instructor at Port aux Basques campus were up for the challenge!  Pictured are: Erica Rigden, Mike Fardy, Megan Wells and instructor Kelly Tompkins, who were discussing the design.

Jeff Martin, CNA’s Director of Student Affairs, says the idea for the pantries came to him in 2021 while discussing the rising cost of food with some colleagues. He is happy to see this project become a reality.
It not only checks all the boxes when it comes to hands-on experience for the students in the Industrial Trades program; it also meets the need for health and wellness services to the students they will be helping.

“We are really looking forward to having the new food pantries at each of our campuses to showcase the awesome work and contribution of our students,” he said. “This initiative is focused on providing Work Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunities to students across curriculums in an institution.”
Getting closer to reality, the Cabinetmaker program team at Port aux Basques campus started cluing the pieces together. Pictured are Erica Rigden, Mike Fardy, Megan Wells and Sherman Downey.

Having the idea is one thing; getting the project off the ground, however, wouldn’t have been possible were it not for a collaborative effort.

“A team of Student Services staff, including Tony Slade, a Student Development Officer – Co-op assisted with the application, which focused on Food Security,” he said.  “Part of the project funds are for materials and supplies outlined in the proposal, for which food pantries was a component.  The majority of the remaining funds are to support student curricular involvement where the participating students would receive a stipend of up to $500 for participation.”

He says CNA initiatives, like the Student Emergency Fund and Student Food Bank, are key components to helping students.

“The pantry is important as it provides another resource for students who may find themselves in need,” said Martin. “The pantries are set up at each campus and provide some basic staples for students. We understand that food security is a key component of mental health, and without food security it can lead to exponential implications on student mental health and well-being.”
From the raw materials to the finished products, Port aux Basques campus and its Cabinetmaker program completed 40 pantries to distribute to CNA campuses throughout Newfoundland and Labrador that will be used to house food and supplies for students in need.

Jan Peddle, Campus Manager at Port aux Basques campus, agrees the pantry cabinets project provides real-world practical experience for students.  

“The work experience itself will expose students to a fairly large fabrication/assembly project and they will be able to use their skills to design, cost out, fabricate, assemble and ship a product,” he said.

Peddle says it’s projects like these that help students develop not only their resume, but their empathy as well.

“They will also be involved in a project that has a social conscience with an aim to support individuals in our college community that may need a little extra help,” he said. “We would like our students to take that awareness with them when they start their careers and go to work in communities all across Canada.”
Kelly Tompkins, Cabinetmaker program instructor at Port Aux Basques campus, is also helping his students make the cabinets.
Carbonear campus proudly displays its pantry, which is available to all students. It’s there if students are looking for something quick to grab for supper, a snack during the day, personal hygiene products, or even school supplies. 

“The cabinets are individual units with open shelves,” he explained. “The food will be stored in bins that can be stored on the shelves. Making individual units gives the option for each campus to display as many units as they need.”

Tompkins says he was happy to be part of such a meaningful project.

“I welcome any opportunity to co-ordinate college needs with student benefits,” he said. “We presently have an advanced block three group of students in the shop, along with pre-employment students. Both will be working together on this project. This project will give both groups an opportunity to work together to share knowledge and develop skills.”

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Media contact:
Ryanne McIsaac
Content Specialist
College of the North Atlantic