The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) will be starting an online grocery store in the next academic year. The service will allow members to order goods online and have them shipped to and stored at the union’s office at 12 Hart House Circle.
The project is in collaboration with non-profit organization FoodReach, which works with agencies that serve local communities and connects them with food wholesalers.
FoodReach provides lower prices by buying in bulk. FoodReach Project Lead Alvin Rebick said that the group acts as a large buying organization that distributes to smaller partners. “This allows agencies with smaller budgets to benefit from pricing that would otherwise only be available to large purchasing bodies.”
The organization “was established to address issues of food access and improved food quality & service to agencies and schools,” wrote Rebick.
According to UTSU Vice-President University Affairs Adrian Huntelar, the program “is being seriously considered for the transition to the Student Commons,” which is expected to be complete in September. The UTSU office is not a suitable permanent home for the program due to a lack of storage space in the office at Hart House Circle.
“We cannot responsibly provide a service that involves perishable food unless we have proper storage space, meaning fridges, freezers, and solid storage rooms,” said Huntelar. “Right now, the UTSU office is simply not equipped to handle large quantities of groceries.”
This won’t stop the union from at least piloting the project. Huntelar sees the program as playing an important role in ensuring food security for students. “The main group that this supports is those who live off-campus without access to a dining hall,” said Huntelar, “but also who are responsible for essentially making their own food.”
With the Student Commons on the horizon, the UTSU also hopes to move the Food Bank, which has been operating in the Multi-Faith Centre every Friday, to the new building to allow for operation every weekday.