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Tackling food insecurity

The Saint John Community Food Basket is the city’s oldest food bank, opened in 1984 by four dedicated individuals who recognized the importance of food security for those of limited means. Fast forward 35 years and the organization now has upwards of 60 volunteers, distributes food to the city’s other three food banks and serves 1,000 people each month.

Which is why UNB Saint John’s Urban and Community Studies Institute has taken a special interest in the Food Basket. The institute strives to contribute to community growth and public policy development, particularly in the area of poverty reduction in New Brunswick. When it came time for third-year politics student Sarah Lunney to do a 12-week summer internship as part of an applied study course in arts, the institute was eager to pair her with this key non-profit.

Food Basket benefits from student’s social engagement

Sarah applied the research, critical thinking and communications skills she learned in the classroom to address some of the real-life challenges faced by the Food Basket. She advocated with local and federal politicians, helped the Food Basket organize with other community agencies around the issue of food insecurity, identified ways they could work together and secure support from government, proposed new programs to meet the needs of clients and recently joined the board of directors of the Food Basket.

Internships connect students with the community

By doing this in partnership with the institute, Sarah built bridges between the university and the community, helping to find practical solutions for critical and pressing concerns like food insecurity and generational poverty.

And Sarah was not alone. Ten of her classmates also held summer internships organized by the institute, addressing important social issues at non-profits like the Saint John Newcomers Centre, Saint John Jewish Historical Museum and the Elizabeth Fry Society. Says Sarah, “UNB connects students to real life experiences that relate to their education. This internship was the most valuable and inspirational experience of my life. I hope to see even more students have this opportunity in the future.”