Saniya Warwaruk


Bachelor of Science, Nutrition and Food Science, specialization in Dietetics, 2nd year

Graduate of the Non-Profit Board Internship Program (2022-2023)

Describe your board/organization, its objectives, and your responsibilities during the NPBI internship.

I was matched with the Campus Food Bank. It is the oldest food bank on a university campus in Canada and it believes that students should hunger for knowledge, not food.

The Non-Profit Board Internship (NPBI) program partners interns with the board of a non-profit organization and encourages us to learn the basics of board governance. This was done through workshops, board meetings and mentorship with a board member. By the end of the year, interns develop a project that supports the board in some way. 

Can you describe your project and how you think it will benefit your board?

My project was to develop a survey that could help bridge the gap between board objectives and our Executive Director's vision. The intent was to survey the board in topics ranging from Operations, Mission/Vision, Engagement, and other miscellaneous topics. I also met with coordinators from the Dietetics program and connected them to our Executive Director as we are aiming to develop two permanent placements for the Dietetics internship.

The board is full of passionate individuals who volunteer their time and efforts towards a common goal that is not easily achieved and difficult to fund. Board decisions are challenging at best of times and require a great deal of cooperation, patience, and planning. The CFB was developed as a temporary solution to a systemic problem and it appears that its presence is permanent for the time being. So while the board is focused on eliminating hunger on campus, this is nearly impossible to do without wider changes that push us towards advocacy and addressing social determinants of health.

What stands out for you as key learning moments as a result of volunteering on a board?

Dieticians can sometimes find themselves working individuals who simply do not have the same resources that average middle class Canadians have. Many of us go on to do work in public policy that impacts large populations. At a time where the cost of food continues to rise while wages stagnate compared to inflation, families have difficult decisions to make that may not ultimately align with their health goals. Sitting on this board made me realize how difficult it is to even attempt to tackle issues of food insecurity when there are broader roadblocks that are difficult to overcome. Watching the CFB navigate issues like food insecurity has been really eye opening and has set me up to have a more nuanced understanding of any future boards that I might sit on, even just a greater appreciation for the challenges ahead in my field.

Would you recommend this program to UofA students and why?

I would absolutely recommend this program if you have any interest in the non-profit sector. Most board members (on any board) receive no training on what board governance entails or the roles/responsibilities that go along with the position. Sitting on a board is a time commitment, not just a resume padder. Your presence should be driven by passion and alignment of values, so I think this is a great opportunity to make sure board governance is truly for you.