“Give when you can and take when you need.” The AMS Food bank’s motto is becoming more important as demand for its services increase, while supply remains the same.
The AMS Food Bank has provided food and other donated supplies to students since 2006. It receives donations from local businesses such as Save On Foods and the UBC Farm, but recently they have not had enough to keep the shelves stocked.
The number of students visiting the AMS Food Bank increased from 540 to 680 this year. Over the summer usage has more than doubled, going from 80 clients to 220. According to AMS Food Bank Coordinator Jay Singh, the increase is due to more awareness of the Food Bank.
“Lots of people attribute the increase to factors such as tuition and rent but the thing is it hasn’t increased dramatically in the same way visits have. I attribute the increase to a job well done by last year’s Food Bank coordinator,” said Singh.
All the publicity has allowed the Food Bank to help more people, but has made it more important that not only the needy know about the Food Bank.
Singh says that his main goals this year are to continue increasing awareness of the Food Bank of those in need, but also to attract donors. Local businesses and UBC alumni have become more aware of campus hunger and provide assistance, however it is hoped that students will also make a difference.
“Every single undergraduate society has teamed up with us this year to have their own food drive every single month,” said Singh.
In September, Arts will run the food drive and then in October Commerce will take over. In December all the undergraduate societies will compete to see who can collect the most food.
Singh says that the majority of students in need of the food bank’s services are graduate students. Many of them have families. Individuals receive one bag of groceries six times per semester while families receive two bags.
“The people that use the service more often than not [use those six bags] over a couple weeks because they really need to use it,” said Singh.
Although supply is struggling to meet demand, the Food Bank has seen a definite turn for the better over the summer. With the introduction of the new SUB, the Food Bank received a space triple the size of their space in the basement of the Old SUB. A refrigerator was also installed so that clients will now have fresh produce available whenever they visit the Food Bank, rather than just on Fresh Food Night.
A new resource booklet is also being released with financial advice, cooking tips and contact information for different organizations that can provide any kind of support they need.
Singh explains that things like the resource booklet represent the Food Bank’s goal of providing general support for their clients and their attempts to lower the stigma attached to visiting the Food Bank.
“The AMS Food Bank is more personal and in a more quiet location so they can come and go without anyone really knowing. There is a negative stigma around the Food Bank,” said Singh. “They shouldn’t feel bad about using it, it is there for them. Just don’t think about it so much and use the service if you need it.”