By Sasha Milam. Originally published in The Ring.

Tari Murwira, who graduates this July with a commerce degree from the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at UVic, can count her spare hours over the last year in cans of soup, jars of peanut butter and liters of milk. Murwira has been coordinator of the University of Victoria Student Society’s on-campus food bank since April 2019.

“The food bank is a warm community of dedicated, generous people,” says Murwira. “I am inspired by how selflessly the volunteers give their time, and their enthusiasm brightens up the space. I’ve enjoyed connecting with users of the service, and getting to know their stories.”

In normal circumstances, the food bank, which relies on funding from the UVSS student fees and donations, serves non-perishables and fresh produce, eggs and dairy, when available, to students. During peak times, the food bank serves 600-800 students weekly. With the advent of COVID-19 and the physical distancing measures put in place to slow its spread, UVSS services such as the food bank have had to adapt. While the Student University Building is closed, Tari and the food bank team are available () to direct students to food resources that are available in the community, and provide grocery gift cards to students in need.

During her term as coordinator, Murwira appreciated the opportunity to meet students from different faculties and backgrounds who she may not have met otherwise. These users aspire to be doctors, lawyers, social workers, teachers and various kinds of community changers—all supported in meeting their goals by the food resources the food bank offers to relieve the pressure of expensive student life.

“I am interested in the intersection of business and impact, and I like how my work at the food bank has given me exposure to wider UVSS running. It’s allowed me to see and contribute to a smoothly running non-profit service.”

For Murwira, who specialized in service management while at Gustavson, today’s volunteer work may be tomorrow’s career.

“I hope to work in non-profit management, and eventually as a director for a non-profit or social venture. I took a social enterprise class in third year that really inspired me, and I feel it is truly my path and desire. There are different options and paths to get there, which I am excited to explore.”

Photo: Libby Oliver/CREAN Society.