Skip to main content
Collapse Menu
Purple Leaf

Luther addresses food insecurity on campus with Free Weekly Distro

In an effort to address food insecurity among students, Martin Luther University College and Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group (LSPIRG) run Free Weekly Distro, a food distribution program each Thursday on both Waterloo and Brantford campuses. The program provides fresh and non-perishable food items as well as other essential items to Luther and Wilfrid Laurier University students.

What started out in 2020 as a table outside of Luther’s building, serving three students in Distro’s first week, has grown to serving roughly 200 students each Thursday afternoon.

Students can go and pick up food they might not be able to afford without needing to identify themselves.

Some of the items distributed each week include:

  • 15-dozen eggs
  • 150 loaves of bread/baked goods
  • 40 lbs of Bananas
  • 150 lbs of other fresh produce
  • Several grocery bins worth of snacks

Anne Anderson community pastor at Luther is one of the founding members of Distro and has seen a lot of change over the last few years.  

“Distro started during the pandemic as it became more apparent that students were having issues accessing affordable foods for a balanced diet,” said Anderson. “We had a conversation with the wider Laurier and Waterloo community about how we could address the problem with the resources we had.”

The Food4Hawks report (2020) by the Graduate Students’ Association found 47% of Laurier students face food insecurity to some degree.

“That’s a really scary statistic, especially because that data was collected before the pandemic,” said Karly Rath, Volunteer and Community Engagement Director at LSPIRG in Waterloo. “Not to mention inflation. Many students are already facing a lot in life and in school, they should not need to worry about being able to afford to eat.”

Tavia Weber, Distro Coordinator, was brought on board in summer of 2022 to help support the growing needs of Distro as more students come for assistance.

“The pandemic certainly didn’t cause food insecurity, but it did shine a light on it and the holes within our support systems as monthly costs increase for students, causing effects for how students live,” said Weber. “There’s this expectation that students struggling to eat properly is a rite of passage. But addressing that mentality gets to the bigger picture, which comes down to costs and the expectations we put on young adults.

Education is another component of what Distro seeks to accomplish. Through print materials, conversations, and occasional workshops, getting past the myths of food insecurity and providing students with the right knowledge to think about how we grow and consume food differently is another step towards progress.

Distro encourages students to take what they need so that supplies will go as far as they can and give when they can because that’s how the project continues on. There’s no limit in the way that students access Distro, which poses its own challenges.

“Because we’re a small establishment, we’re not big enough to have buying power, so we seek out opportunities and deals that will make this possible,” said Weber.

The project runs through countless volunteers as well as funding and donations by campus and community partners, grants and food drives. These are key resources for how Distro functions and couldn’t run without.

“Because of community partnerships, we know every Thursday we have bread or 15-dozen eggs.” Anderson explained. “It’s the funding and our donations that will allow us to serve the growing population. It doubled from last year and we need to continue to work toward further partnerships and donations to sustain the growing needs of our students”

A Food Justice Garden right on Luther’s campus provided some of its harvest to Distro.

Distro is one step on a path to assisting the greater needs of students.

“We understand it doesn’t fix the overarching problem of food insecurity at university campuses across Canada, but the impact we have on our students today is significant,” said Weber. “That’s why we work each day to improve the system we have and meet the students where they need us to.”

Learn more about the program and to volunteer or donate.

Media enquiries:
Andreas Patsiaouros
Student Support and Communications Assistant
(519) 884-1970 Ext. 3512


Unknown Spif - $key