Not everyone has the opportunity to make a difference while checking out at the grocery store, but customers of Fonthill Sobeys were able to do just that recently.
The 110 Highway 20 East location, owned by 2016 Pelham Citizen of the Year Ron Kore, raised a total of $1,225 to support hungry Brock University students.
Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) President Christopher Yendt said the donation is a great example of the University and the surrounding community supporting one another.
“It’s incredible that the community has started to recognize there’s a real need for students to be better supported,” said Yendt. “We give back a lot in tremendous ways and are involved out in the community, and this is the community giving back to support us. It’s wonderful to see.”
The donation will benefit undergraduate and graduate students, particularly those who have the highest need across the institution.
Anna Lathrop, Vice-Provost, Teaching/Learning and Student Success, said President Gervan Fearon has met with the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) and the GSA to discuss food security in order to find new ways to support students in need. Part of this strategy is to connect with Niagara community partners and work together to support both students and community members who face financial challenges and don’t have the resources to put food on the table.
“It’s a delight to see this level of community support — and we certainly wish to thank both Ron Kore and the citizens of Pelham for this amazing contribution,” said Lathrop. “Our students have so much to offer and give back to the community in so many ways, but the need for food on the table and food security is acute and immediate.
“Students do the best they can to make ends meet while also financing their education in preparation for meaningful careers.”
Food First Co-ordinator Francesco Amodio is responsible for facilitating many of the food and health insecurity services that run through the BUSU, noting that the need for donations is on the rise.
“We see the need for this go up and up every year,” he said. “This donation goes directly to students and helping put food on their tables. We couldn’t be more thankful. This means so much to the students.”
Donations, which will be divided into gift cards and distributed to students, were collected by cashiers. Dawn McInnis, who has been a Fonthill Sobey’s employee since July, collected the most at her till.
“It’s such a sense of inclusivity,” McInnis said of the initiative. “We’re all here to help out. This community is quite blessed in a lot of ways, and if we can give back in any way, then we should.”
While Lathrop said this is the first time she has reached out externally to support Brock students in need, it won’t be the last.
“This is our first sort of pilot of reaching out,” she said. “Now we’ve got a success story to go to other business managers and ask if they would contribute to a network of support.”