Western University student Michael Boushy had one last project to complete before heading home to Oakville for summer break.
What started as a simple clearing of the household’s kitchen cupboards resulted in nearly 750 pounds of food being donated by him and other students to the London Food Bank.
“I had to stay back a couple of more days, but it was great,” the 22-year-old second-year finance student told Inhalton. “It wasn’t a drag whatsoever. I enjoyed doing it. It was fantastic.”
Giving back to the community is something Boushy, who was born in South Africa, wanted to do since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic at the start of last year.
Upon the Mustangs hockey player’s travels around London, he would find himself south of Richmond St., a part of the city he says university students don’t often go.
It’s where one can see most of the city’s poverty.
“I was able to see that a few times and I guess being from South Africa it kind of opened my eyes a bit,” Boushy said. “I really just wanted to do something for London and give back amidst all the outbreaks that occurred and they (London Food Bank) welcomed us with open arms.”
Boushy opened the cupboards and noticed a couple of his roommates wasting a bit of food and he wanted to take action.
“A lot of my friends are graduating and they didn’t really know what to do with their food either,” he said. “I thought nothing better than to start a little cabinet cleanout, so I started that at the end of the month. Kind of when people were moving out or resituating, or whatever the case was, and it worked out.”
Using social media, he got the word out to friends and other university students to collect their leftover cans of food and excess food items.
He had everything from Kraft Dinner to canned soup and pasta in his living room before making his first trip to the food bank with more than 600 pounds of food.
With the support he’s received, not only is Boushy hoping this becomes an annual tradition at Western, but other universities and colleges, like Sheridan College in Oakville, catch on and reach out to help out food banks in their communities.
“A 100 per cent I hope this carries on,” he said. “My sister is probably coming to Western as well, so, who knows, once I leave maybe she’ll take it over.
“I do want to expand it, given the traction it got this year. I do want to try and expand it, not only make it bigger in Western. I do have the press now and the school kind of rallied around my back near the end of it, and that was great. So, hopefully they can help next year, promote it.”
Boushy says he also has a lot of university hockey friends as well at Guelph and Laurier and other schools. Perhaps they could even pool together all their totals.
“You never know, but hopefully something big comes out of it,” he said. “It’s been fantastic.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit some families really hard financially and food drives like this one could make a real difference during these challenging times.
Boushy says he was talking to his parents and his biggest takeaway from the conversation was just how easy it is to make an impact.
“No matter how big of an impact you make, or how significant the impact is, I think all it took for me was one phone call to the London Food Bank, a just a simple info-graphic and a simple post to my socials, and it kind of took off.
“You never know what you can do and anything of any margin helps.”
Boushy is surprised by all the media attention his story has attracted, but it’s only left him thinking he wants to do more.
“I didn’t expect all the traction this has gained,” he said. “It’s almost overwhelming, to be honest. If anything, it allows me to think bigger and want to do something more.”