international students canada

Outrage after Ontario student explains how to use food banks for free groceries in viral video

An Instagram video in which a man explains how he "saves hundreds of bucks" on grocery bills each month by using food banks in Ontario has the internet quite understandably up in arms this week amid sky-high demand for the charitable service.

The individual, who speaks to the camera while wearing a Wilfred Laurier University sweatshirt, explains how he gets free grocery hauls from food banks on the school's campus, which he says are "for everyone, for all the students."

He goes on to tell his audience — ostensibly, other post-secondary students — that here in Ontario, "most of the universities and colleges have food banks which are run by trusts, churches or non-profit organizations" and that users can "take as much as you want."

Though he has since taken his account down after backlash, the post lives on in reposts on Instagram, X and elsewhere, where hundreds have jumped in to rage comment about the exploitation of food banks and other aid designed for people in need.

Though the man says in the video that he is a student, pages like the [often-unreliable] 6ixbuzz have added their own alleged dirt on him, claiming he "works as a bank data scientist for TD Canada earning an average of $98,000 per year and proudly uploaded this video."

A quick LinkedIn search shows that there is someone with the same name who does indeed work at TD Canada, though as many pointed out in the comments sections of the posts, the account has recently been deleted.

In response to the incident, a representative from Laurier told blogTO that the institution is aware of the video, and that the dean of students is currently investigating it.

They also confirmed that the school does have multiple supports on its available to students experiencing food insecurity on its campuses, including free and pay-what-you-can groceries intended only for students who need them.

"We do not condone the misuse of food banks. Food security is an issue affecting many people in our communities, including students," the representative said.

"For Laurier students, we provide many resources, including a money management program and on-campus food assistance options. We are currently undertaking a review of how to better communicate the food security resources available to our students. "

Amid hundreds of people lambasting the man in the video for using food banks for "free groceries" and encouraging others to do the same, some said that though they feel the act is immoral if the person does not truly experience food insecurity (which in this case, we as viewers can't know for sure), they want to give him "the benefit of the doubt."

"Maybe he was just ignorant to the purpose of food banks," one person wrote on X. "Hopefully... students can use this as a precedent to stay informed."

It is unclear if the filmer is an international or domestic student, if they are employed, and what their financial situation might be. But, food banks in nearby Brampton are among those that have expressed concern about rampant abuse of such charities in this economic climate.

One also noted an uptick of international students in particular trying to utilize them.

"For certain groups like permanent residents, we can't serve you until you've been here for a year, since the government standard is that you need to be able support yourself... and students, who are here temporarily, we also will not serve," the board president of The Ste. Louise Outreach Centre of Peel told blogTO in November.

Multiple videos on YouTube and other platforms have publicly encouraged international students to use food banks as a way to "get free food in Canada" despite the fact that Ottawa now says that learners from abroad must prove they have a minimum of $20,635 available to them to cover their living expenses here.

Many are now calling for organizations that adminster food banks and other supports do more thorough checks to verify low-income status and need.

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