AMS secures additional funding of $100,000 from UBC for AMS Food Bank

VP Academic and University Affairs Kamil Kanji secured $100,000 in additional funding from UBC for the AMS Food Bank, bringing the total funding to $450,000 for the 2023/24 year.

Kanji announced the additional funding at a December 6 AMS Council meeting. This comes after students continue to identify affordability as a top concern. The AMS plans to advocate to fund food security programs by revisit establishing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UBC and by pursuing a needs-based money-in-pocket approach in the long-term.

The food bank is the AMS’ most-used service and received 16,253 visits in the 2022/23 academic school year.

“The amount the Board of Governors (BoG) was allocating for food security was quite low, and coming out of COVID, we’ve seen that number has increased. However, it has stayed pretty stagnant at $800,000 per year … [while the] food security crisis has only gotten worse with a commitment from the institution that has stayed the same” said Kanji in an interview with The Ubyssey.

The process of securing funding happens through the Food Security Initiative (FSI), which is responsible for the amount of money allocated by BoG. The FSI table consists of student leaders who decide on how to divide BoG funding among “food security initiatives including the Acadia Food Hubs, Sprouts, the AMS Food Bank, Agora, and others as well” said Kanji.

Kanji attributes the increased commitment for the AMS Food Bank to a significant rise in food purchasing and projected costs. In April, the AMS announced that UBC staff will no longer be able to use the bank due to rising costs.

While Kanji explained “the university rarely commits to financial agreements that are … made consistent year over year,” he also said the AMS is working with the President’s office to revisit the MoU that existed under previous UBC President Santa Ono.

“[Ono] provided a certain amount of money annually [to the food bank] over the course of five years,” said Kanji. “The MoU expired when President Ono left office, and we’re working to see if that’s a possibility for us to engage with [under President Bacon].”

The AMS also is advocating for a program to disburse money directly to students, which can then be used to buy food and groceries. Kanji emphasized a low-barrier needs-based solution.

“We’re really looking to make sure we’re targeting those students that need the money the most … [and that] we’re delivering those funds to students that need those funds,” said Kanji.

“We will continue … year over year to advocate for the proper amount to go towards student food security initiatives.”