Pharmacy students combat hunger in KW “Beyond the Counter”

Friday, March 20, 2015

Students and director Dave Edwards stand behind dispensary counter made of cans.The School of Pharmacy’s first CanBuild team collected a whopping 566 food items for CanBuild 2015, the University of Waterloo’s annual food drive.Volunteers created a life-size dispensary and called their initiative “Beyond the Counter”. Their aim was to raise awareness about hunger and how pharmacists can improve nutrition in our communities.

Access to healthy food can be challenging for many, leading to poor diet and chronic problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes,” says student Elaine Dinh, one of the organizers for the School of Pharmacy CanBuild team. “These are issues we are trained to address.”

Pharmacists can help not only in a professional capacity, but also as engaged members of neighbourhoods, cities, and charities.

By working together,” says Dinh, “pharmacists can have an increasingly positive impact on public health and help guide people to healthy lifestyle options.”

Elaine Dinh and Chris Shin co-organized the School of Pharmacy CanBuild efforts, as a joint project among students in Community Action Now (CAN) and UW CAPSI (the University of Waterloo chapter of the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns). Faculty and staff also contributed.

Commmunity Action Now began fundraising early, collecting $500 toward the “Beyond The Counter” CanBuild initiative.

“We raised majority of the funds through the hugely successful Valentine’s Day Candy Gram,” said Chris Shin of CAN. “We were excited to be involved in this collaboration with CAPSI and the faculty for Pharmacy Awareness Month, as it aligned with Community Action Now’s mission to create opportunities for pharmacy students to engage in health-related community services.” 

Students used the funds to purchase cans, then built the dispensary counter in the lobby of the School, in downtown Kitchener. This highly visible location attracted attention to the CanBuild event, and the ongoing issue of hunger in our community.

To spread the word even further, the CanBuild crew produced a stop-motion video of the building process. 

Donated food goes to the Feds Student Food Bank and the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region recently suffered some losses due to a flood. Please note that monetary donations are appreciated at this time to assist with repairs and shore up emergency funds.

Thanks to all who pitched in this year, especially Christine Bird, Mary Stanley, Debbie Brown, Rosemary Killeen, and Teodora Lazic.

To view more entries and award winners, visit the Community Relations Blog.

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