UBC staff will no longer be able to access AMS Food Bank due to rising costs

Apr 23 2023, 10:09 pm

As a result of food inflation and increased demand for the AMS Food Bank, the UBC Alma Mater Society says it won’t be able to allow staff to use the food bank starting May 1.

Kathleen Simpson is a Senior Manager at AMS and tells Daily Hive the student union’s decision to end support for UBC staff was not one it took lightly.

However, the rising cost of food has driven more people to need support from the AMS food bank and simultaneously made it more expensive to purchase food to operate the food bank.

Last year, the AMS food bank served 7,496 people. By the end of this policy year, the student union expects to help 15,861 people.

“In the last month alone, we saw a 1,000% spike over the previous month, quite unusual, but we are really facing some very high business numbers, and when you combine that with some of the costs of food that have been rising for some of our staple items,” Simpson explained.

“We really did that because the number of staff visits grew from around 14% of our total visits in September – October and around 35% in December,” Simpson explained.

“Around the time of December staff … were accounting for about 40% of all of our groceries that we were giving out, and that’s ultimately because staff are more likely than students to have families.”

AMS/screenshot

However, since the AMS food bank is a service run by and funded through tuition fees, “we ultimately have to prioritize students in the delivery of our service.”

Simpson said UBC staff would be directed to other programs in the Metro Vancouver area, like the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, if they need support.

“Staff are more likely to be living outside of the UBC area. So they ultimately will slightly have greater access to other programs and resources,” she said.

“We’re in a position where we really need to kind of prioritize our resources.”

AMS has put in a funding request to UBC for $350,000.

“Next year, our cost of groceries alone is projected to cost around $449,000,” Simpson said. “So we’re hoping to hear back… whether or not that full funding will be allocated.”

AMS/screenshot

AMS is asking for nearly double what it received last year from UBC.

However, without the needed funding, “there will have to be at least a partial closure of the AMS Food Bank,” AMS said in a letter to UBC.

“Any partial closure will directly harm UBC community members by worsening current food insecurity amongst our most vulnerable students.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to support the AMS Food Bank.

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