On November 3, 2022, I sent the following letter to the co-presidents of UBC Sprouts:
Gizel Gedik and Delanie Austin
UBC Sprouts Board
Room 0001C, 6138 Student Union Blvd.
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Dear Gisele and Delanie:
Thank you for your letter of October 21, 2022, regarding food security at UBC. I would also like to thank the other signatories of the letter.
I share your concern for the well-being of students and other members of the UBC community with regard to food security. We take this issue very seriously and are working hard to address it.
UBC’s commitment to addressing food insecurity was demonstrated earlier this year when the university announced an additional $500,000 in funding to increase food security for students at the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses—bringing total funding to $2.4 million dedicated toward food security-related needs this fiscal for both campuses. At the Vancouver campus, we have worked in close collaboration with the Alma Mater Society (AMS) and Graduate Students Society (GSS) to determine how this additional funding should be allocated to have maximum immediate benefit for the Vancouver campus. It’s also important to recognize that the allocation was announced several months before your protest and petition. We are hopeful that Sprouts would communicate this funding and our commitment to this issue more broadly among its membership so they are aware of the university’s ongoing commitment to increasing food security for our students. At the UBC Vancouver campus, 85% of this funding ($425,000) is being allocated to prioritize providing direct access to food through approaches that minimize stigma and barriers to access.
- The UBC Meal Share program will receive $210,000
- The AMS Food Bank will receive $145,000
- Sprouts will receive $30,000
- The Acadia Food Hub will receive $25,000
- The Food Hub Market and its partner programs will receive $15,000
Fifteen per cent of the funding will go towards food security-related needs at the UBC Okanagan campus. The specific allocation of this funding is being finalized in consultation with SUO. This additional funding reflects UBC’s immediate and ongoing commitment to supporting students who are facing urgent food security-related needs. We recognize and appreciate that current inflationary and associated cost of living pressures, including the high cost of food, are challenges for our students, and that not having secure access to food has harmful impacts on their mental, physical, and social wellbeing, as well as their academic success and university experience.
It is also important to note that UBC funding for food insecurity initiatives was not reduced during this fiscal year. During the pandemic in 2020/21, one-time funding was provided in recognition of the extraordinary circumstances in which some students found themselves. The administration has since pursued a long-term plan for addressing affordability in the Student Affordability Task Force report. The task force—composed of students, faculty, and staff—provided 10 recommendations for addressing affordability, including a $100 million fundraising initiative to support need-based aid and food security.
We are also currently exploring long-term funding to provide ongoing, stable support for food security-related needs.
In closing, I would like to thank you for your dedication and your passion around this issue. Like you, UBC is working towards the goal of a campus where no-one is food insecure. Working together, we can achieve this goal.
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor