Despite hiccups in funding, the AMS will continue to support Acadia Park community food hub

After advice from lawyers, the AMS will no longer reallocate $58,000 from the Childcare Bursary Fund to the Acadia Park community food hub — but will continue to support the food hub regardless.

The Acadia Park community food hub was started by Dr. Jennifer Katz, an associate professor of inclusive education at UBC. She has worked with the Origin Church, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank and the AMS to keep the food hub running. The hub thus far has also received donations from external parties and its GoFundMe page.

“When the [Acadia Park community hub] project was first brought to us, we thought that we must support it because the project is really important for students,” said VP Finance Lucia Liang.“The fund that was glaring to us was the [Childcare Bursary Fund] so we started exploring it.”

The Childcare Bursary Fund was created over 20 years ago to help student parents who are caring for a child. Back in December, the AMS Council approved the allocation of $58,000 from the fund to help student parents in Acadia Park, in conjunction with the Acadia Park community food hub.

But the AMS’s lawyers recommended against the use of the Childcare Bursary Fund for this purpose — as the term “childcare” specifically implies the supervision of children. According to the lawyers, the bursary cannot be used to purchase food supplies, even if it’s an expense related to caring for a child.

“We could not use this money at all,” said Liang. “If we use this money to buy food supplies that come with childcare expenses, it [will] not [be] in line with the referenda.”

Liang said despite this, the AMS decided to fund the project through AMS central funds and said she is collaborating closely with the student services manager, Ian Stone, to secure donations for the project to offset the costs.

In addition, Liang said the AMS has issued a new credit card with an increased limit to the AMS assistant food bank coordinator to ensure the Acadia Park food hub can continue to support students.

“The current food bank coordinator, Cali, has done a really good job in ... raising funds for the Acadia food hub,” said Stone. “We have hired a third assistant coordinator, Noah, for the food bank who have been getting volunteers to help out [with] making purchases for the Acadia food hub.”

Stone said the AMS food bank as a whole has also received a lot of donations — money that also goes toward helping the Acadia Park food hub.

“We’ve surpassed $70,000 in confirmed donations for the 2020/21 academic year, which is a huge increase in what we’ve seen, but also obviously, we’re spending it on a huge increase [in demand],” Stone said.

Despite the AMS’s inability to reallocate the Childcare Bursary Fund, both Liang and Stone are looking toward holding a referendum to expand the term “childcare” in the future. For now, they are seeking to secure more donations through fundraising events.

“We are feeling confident in our ability to continue supporting this initiative and ensuring that people who need food, support and resources can access those things,” Stone said.

This article has been updated to correct the spelling of the current event coordinator’s name and clarify her position.