As the COVID-19 crisis hit in March 2020 and Humber College made the decision to close its campuses, many students living in residence began to pack up their belongings and move out.
Still, more than a dozen students remain in residence at Humber’s North campus. They have a roof over their heads and round-the-clock support by professional, live-in Residence Life Coordinators (RLCs), but the challenges of living in residence amidst a pandemic are unique.
Paying for tuition, accommodation and groceries can be a struggle for students. Food insecurity leaves some students unable to access healthy and nutritional meals. Sometimes they need to make decisions that affect how much and how well they eat.
Humber College and Easton’s Group of Hotels recognized the unprecedented situation and are now partnering to provide support to students who have struggled to find alternate living arrangements on short notice, had summer plans that fell through, or came from abroad to study and found it difficult or dangerous to return home.
Easton’s Group’s newly-launched Project Kindness provides food and supplies to retirement homes, assisted living facilities and shelters during the pandemic – and the company has used the model to help Humber College students.
In May, Easton’s delivered three meals a day straight to the door of participating students in residence at North campus.
On the day of the delivery, staff wore face masks and gloves. Meals were well-packed so they were easy to store in the industrial kitchen in the residence. Physical distancing protocols were implemented during the pickup of meals.
“Project Kindness was launched to bring people hope, love and kindness during a time when light is needed most,” says Reetu Gupta, president and CEO of Easton’s Group. “I was truly hoping this kindness would spread and bring people happiness. Humber College is a fantastic institution, and it is my honour to be able to help.”
Students who received the meals had positive feedback.
Projects like the to-your-door food deliveries support students by helping to save money that can be used to cover other urgent expenses. They provide quality, nutritious food and relieve stress by reducing the need for planning, cooking and prepping.
“In difficult times, it makes a big difference to know that others have your back,” said one student.
History of Student Support
Humber College has a close relationship with Easton’s Group which has supported Humber students through internships and career development opportunities.
Easton’s Group representatives often serve as guest speakers in the classroom and are participants in the GTHA-Humber Hotel Management Leadership program in collaboration with the Greater Toronto Hotel Association.
The hospitality and tourism industry has been one of the hardest-hit and many hotels in Canada have closed while others are experiencing single-digit occupancies.
Throughout these challenges, Easton’s Group has still found an opportunity to be hospitable and give back.
“As we navigate our new normal, some things remain – kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity,” explained Kristy Adams, professor and program coordinator for Humber’s Hospitality – Hotel & Restaurant Operations Management program.
She notes that Humber is educating future leaders and students in residence – and their peers – are likely remember the support and leadership shown to them during this time, when they begin their careers.