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Ontario food bank turns away int’l students

A food bank in Canada has decided it will be turning away international students, citing a distinct lack of resources and “abuse” of the system.

Food banks have been frequented by international students in Canada as they attempt to keep up with tuition and living costs. Photo: iStock

A YouTuber had reportedly also made a video on how to “score” free food

The St Louise Outreach Centre of Peel in Brampton, Ontario is situated in the same town as a branch of Algoma College and multiple career colleges.

It recently put up a message, written on a whiteboard, saying “Do not enter food bank: NO international students service, government regulations” outside the food bank’s door.

The sign attracted a large amount of media attention, with journalists in Brampton asking the food bank’s proprietor to explain this sudden change.

“It’s all these young kids with backpacks saying they want help… they’re just raiding everything they can, and we can’t handle that,” Catherine Rivera, who represents the Centre, said in an interview with local news.

“Everyone’s running out of food.”

An TikTok influencer in Brampton claimed that by raiding, it was meant that internationals were wading their way into the building itself and “clearing out the cupboards”, but this has not been verified.

A YouTuber by the name of Mr Patel had reportedly also made a video on how international students could “score” free food from the food bank in Brampton, but this video has since been made private on the video platform.

International students must prove they have sufficient funds when they apply for their visa to study in Canada.

Photo: IRCC

Rivera reports that such issues have been the case, where the food bank has been “advertised” and they are subsequently bombarded by international students.

She went on to say that she believes some international students are simply abusing the system and aren’t actually “in need”.

“There’s been a lot of abuse. People come in with $50,000, $60,000 in the bank – and they just wanna get free food,” she claimed.

But Jindra Singh, national director of Khalsa Aid Canada – a prominent NGO internationally – said that it wasn’t acceptable to be turning away international students just because of their visa status.

“It’s deplorable to single out international students”

“It may come as a surprise to many, but universities also have food banks and demand there is at a record high,” he said on X.

It has long been an issue in multiple major destinations, including Canada, with international students having to pay tuition and rent and sometimes even omitting food to keep afloat – especially amid weak currencies in prominent source countries like Nigeria and India.

“It’s deplorable to single out international students,” Singh added.

College of the Rockies’ director of international, Larissa Strong, raised the question on LinkedIn on whether federal changes may need to be made to prevent situations like this – namely, the finance threshold to study in Canada.

“Is it time to raise the amount of the [Guaranteed Investment Certificate] given the financial realities have shifted from when the Student Direct Stream was implemented [in 2018]?” Strong mused.

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