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AMS Food Bank works to keep up with student need

Students at the University of British Columbia report routinely running out of money for food

By Alison Knill , in City , on October 27, 2018

Students at the University of British Columbia report routinely running out of money for food and the student union is creating new initiatives to solve the problem.

Up to two of every five students reported worrying about running out of groceries before they have money to buy more, according to a new student-experience survey run by the student union. Additionally, 17 per cent of students worried at least once a month.

“Thirty per cent of our undergraduate students are actually re-evaluating if they want to continue education because they cannot afford to, so that’s a huge concern,” said Anam Elahi, who works with the Graduate Student Society.

“I’m a grad student myself and I know there are lots of issues in terms of funding when it comes to me.”

Many Vancouverites find the cost of living hard to manage, between the rising prices of housing and transit. Students with limited resources are increasingly turning to the AMS Food Bank, a food-relief service run by the student union, the Alma Mater Society.

Pasta sauce limited to two per visit to maximize availability for clients

The increasing AMS Food Bank numbers

The number of people using the student food bank increased from 2017 by at least 40 per cent in June and August, with 75 visits each of those months. Around 56,000 students attend UBC. The AMS Food Bank created a new partnership in response with UBC Housing and Hospitality Services to collect any food students left behind.

“It’s used regardless of whether students are in school or not because, anecdotally, I know some students will come a long way from home just to use this food bank,” said Piers Fleming, the AMS student-services manager.

That increase makes it difficult for the student food bank to keep up. The numbers of food-bank clients are on the rise particularly among graduate students and marginalized communities.

UBC Food Services says it recognizes the issue and has partnered with the AMS Food Bank and other food-recovery agencies that collect and provide meals to people in need.

Students can access the AMS Food Bank in Life Building Room 0032 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday each week. Non-perishable products, personal hygiene items, and fresh produce are also available in limited supply.