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Lethbridge post-secondary student groups seeing higher demand for support


Post-secondary students have been in the classroom for two weeks and this year has already brought with it more stress than others.

Student advocacy groups are seeing record demand from students reaching out for support as costs climb.

"The numbers we are seeing are very disheartening for the needs of students," said Rachele Preston, vice-president external for the University of Lethbridge Students' Union.

Preston says twice as many students have been accessing the campus food bank through the first half of September as in the entire month last year.

But it's not just food the students need.

"Within the first week of the semester, we saw three students apply for an emergency bursary and usually, we were seeing three to four a month," Preston said.

"May to September, we have double the amount of applications for emergency bursaries as we did in the entirety of the same time last year."

Both the U of L and Lethbridge College Students' Association offer food pantries for students, along with financial support programs.

The increased requests aren't a surprise to the association.

"We were very much so expecting an increase in our student food bank numbers. But not just that -- all of our supports for finances and mental health as well," said Celine Gilbert, the association's vice-president of operations and finance.

The student groups believe inflation, cost of living and rent are the leading causes.

Preston says the added stress is affecting students' learning.

"With school, you get stressed over finals and exams and things of those sorts and you do it and it's done. Whereas when you're thinking, 'How am I going to eat today,' that never leaves you," Preston said.

"You can't just pretend it doesn't exist and you can't just ignore it. Students are constantly wondering where is their next meal coming from, how are they going to support themselves, are they going to be able to pay their bills this month."

Both student groups are calling on the province for more support through the affordability crisis.

"In a couple of months, we'll be going to go lobby against the government and ask for some changes for stuff for the next year," Gilbert said.

"But I know right now, one of the biggest things that is helping is that there's something in place right now where institutions can only raise tuition by two per cent each year." Top Stories

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