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Chi Gamma chapter introduces a pilot project to alleviate food insecurity on campus

By Eula Mengullo, December 13 2023—

The Chi Gamma chapter of the Zeta Psi fraternity at the University of Calgary has opened its kitchen to serve meals and help students who are experiencing food insecurity.

Currently, in its pilot year, Chi Gamma has initiated a weekly soup kitchen that will be hosted on Fridays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

In an interview with the Gauntlet, Aaron Szymanowski, house manager for Chi Gamma, elaborates on this new initiative and what it entails. 

“The underlying principle is that we have been hearing a lot about issues with food insecurity and making ends meet from rent and general inflation pressures, that students are having a difficult time supplying for themselves and being able to focus on their studies,” he said.

As a fraternity heavily involved in improving student experience on campus, Szymanowski remarks that aside from wanting to provide nutritious food for students, they also want to provide a way for them to engage with others while being able to unwind from the daily pressures of academic obligations.

“We want students to be able to mingle and bond over some food and a nice environment to hang out,” Szymanowski said.

“It also gives us a chance to connect with the student body and dispel some of the myths about fraternity and make it more relatable and relevant to students’ lives.” 

Since this is a pilot year, the soup kitchen is purely a drop-in event for any student at the U of C, undergraduate or otherwise. Located just across the university train station, the Chi Gamma soup kitchen is located at 2668 Capitol Hill Crescent Northwest.

In the future, Szymanowski also expressed that they hope to partner up with surrounding and relevant organizations to hone in on the demographic that need the support the most.

Taking into account dietary restrictions, the kitchen also aims to provide vegan and vegetarian-based meals to accommodate as large a demographic as possible. 

“The food that we’re providing and aiming to provide will be vegan and have minimum allergen restrictions,” he said. “We try to keep it simple so we can serve as many people broadly as possible.” 

As of right now, Szymanowski highlights that the goal is to build momentum and spread the word to as many students as possible. While they are currently offering it on a weekly basis, there are plans to offer it twice a week as well as providing more consistent dates.

Overall, he emphasized that the core of this initiative was to provide a community for students and to keep them engaged in campus life. 

“It’s all about establishing connection and community among students,” said Szymanowski. 

Remarking on his personal experience as a student at the U of C, he highlights how students can easily fall into isolation as it can be difficult to make meaningful connections across campus.

“In a broader sense we would really like to bring people together, even just to begin talking about something simple like food, nutrition, diet,” he said. 

In his final message, Szymanowski highlights that while there are certain prejudices and misconceptions surrounding fraternities, they hope that this new initiative will reinforce their core purpose, which is to improve student lives. 

“I think it’s important to note that fraternities themselves are organizations dedicated to improving student life at large,” said Szymanowski.

For more information about the soup kitchen hosted by Zeta Psi Calgary, visit their Instagram page.

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