Snaile Smart Lockers expand the reach of food assistance program at the University of Waterloo

Today, most Canadian universities have a food bank on campus. An estimated 40 per cent of post-secondary students face food insecurity, and universities are looking for creative ways to address the need.

At the University of Waterloo, the Food Assistance Program is run by the Waterloo University Student Association (WUSA). The program distributes between 500 and 700 food and hygiene hampers each year, says WUSA Director of Student Engagement, Brendan Lowther. “Our numbers actually went up during the pandemic,” he says. “Our hamper program was still operating, even when the campus was closed.”

The Challenge

The volunteer-run program allows students to choose from 6 pre-packaged hampers (meat, vegetarian, halal, kosher, hygiene and menstrual) or to request a custom hamper. After submitting a request online, students are directed to pick up their hamper at one of a handful of locations around campus.

“Our current distribution methods rely on face-to-face interaction,” says Lowther. “We know that many people would prefer a more anonymous way to access our food assistance program.” In addition, current pick-up locations may not be convenient for people studying or working at all hours across a large campus.

The Solution

After extensive research, WUSA determined that Snaile automated lockers offer a convenient, flexible, and contactless way for hungry students to access the food they need.

“They address concerns of anonymity within our student community, and encourage agency,” says Lowther. “It was also important for us to work with a Canadian company, and Snaile was very responsive and understanding of our needs.”

With Snaile, students can go online, request a hamper, and select their preferred pick-up location. Once the unperishable food or hygiene hamper has been dropped off in the secure digital locker, the intended recipient receives a text or email notifying them of the delivery, along with a unique authentication code that can be used to retrieve the hamper, anytime, 24 / 7.

The Results

Snaile automated lockers are a welcome addition to traditional in-person food hamper distribution methods.

Located in three locations across campus, with plans to add a fourth, the automated lockers allow students to easily and discreetly pick up their hamper without making a special trip across campus.

“With Snaile, students are able to choose the most accessible option for them,” Lowther says.

To find out more about how Snaile automated lockers can help with your food distribution program, contact….
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      The Snaile project is part of our initiative to empower students to access food assistance on their own terms.”

– Brendan Lowther, WUSA Director of Student Engagement, Campus Life

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