Thompson Rivers University

Feeding success

March 30, 2015

Business students apply skills to aid Kamloops Food Bank


By Lissa Millar

The real challenge in learning comes when theory and methodology are applied to real life.

Seven students from the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program rose to that challenge when they undertook a directed studies project to develop marketing techniques for the Kamloops Food Bank (KFB).

“Instead of following along using a textbook, we were able to gain real-life experience outside of TRU,” said Victoria Santamaria, a third year human resources major. Starting in September, she and fellow BBA students Amanda Anderson, Kim Annis, Lara Beardsell, Tatiana Fedotova, Alejandro Urrego Lopez and Nicola Hum divided into groups to address four concerns that the Food Bank had identified: public perception of the food bank, sustainability, efficiency and volunteer recruitment and retention.

“As students and part-time volunteers at the organization, we combined our knowledge and educational experiences to create a formal project providing enhancements the non-profit wished to analyze, reflect and impose,” said Santamaria. Her group assessed existing strategies in order to make recommendations for recruiting and retaining volunteers.

Beardsell’s group conducted a public perception survey and analysed the results, learning about the food bank and the people who access its programs in the process.

“The project was mostly self-directed and therefore required a lot of motivation to stay on track,” she said. “It was a very different experience compared to the traditional learning style in university.”

The Kamloops Food Bank often works with TRU students from various disciplines, explained executive director Bernadette Siracky. Students are encouraged to volunteer at the organization for a time so they understand the services they offer, their volunteers and their clientele. For this project, a directed studies with marketing professor Dr. Anne Lavack, students applied for and received funding from Valley First Credit Union.

“We were delighted with the dedication of the students. They were professional, well-researched, and they worked hard to produce some meaningful information,” said Siracky, adding that while KFB has a strong, positive and healthy volunteer base, the students came up with some good ideas that are under consideration.

Part of the success of the project was due to strong communication and commitment among the students, said Santamaria.

“Our combined talents, educational knowledge, and teamwork instinctively built a very fun, exciting, and cooperative group,” she said, adding that the most difficult part was balancing other coursework and conflicting student schedules. “Thanks to tools such as Google Drive and WhatsApp, we were able to complete our work, share our work and communicate efficiently at our own pace.”

The group also received the Thompson-Nicola Regional District Short Film Bursary to produce a film of under 5 minutes as part of their class project. Students produced two videos, which were screened at the Kamloops Independent Short Shorts festival during the Kamloops Film Festival in March, and decided to donate most of the bursary to the Food Bank.


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