UBC will provide additional $500k for food security, allocation unclear

Early last week, Santa Ono announced $500,000 for food initiatives, but how this money will be spent is unclear.

Ono announced the extra funding at the September 26 Board of Governors meeting where governors heard presentations from UBC’s student unions — the AMS, GSS and Student Union Okanagan — that students are struggling with food security.

In a statement sent to The Ubyssey, Mathew Ramsey, director of university affairs at UBC Media Relations, said the $500,000 is set to be a one-time occurrence, drawn from the President's Priority Fund, and be split among the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses.

Ramsey said meetings will be held beginning this week, to decide on the best use of the money.

The announcement comes as budgets for food initiatives have been slashed, resulting in affordable food outlets like Fooood to shut down or others having to scramble for more funds.

Food security is also an issue. According to a yearly survey by the AMS, 40 per cent of UBC students were found to be food insecure.

For Clara Sismondo and Delanie Austin, co-presidents of Sprouts Cafe, the $500,000 is helpful, but not enough.

“We can’t have sustainable food security on campus if it’s only one-time funding,” said Sismondo.

“[Is this] addressing the root causes of insecurity, or [is it just] good PR for the university?” added Austin.

Sprouts, a student-run organization dedicated to making food accessible for all students, had its funding reduced to $10,000 this year before it managed to scrape together another $15,000, after meetings through the summer with the UBC Food Security Initiative and AMS representatives.

“A lot of work went into getting the extra fifteen [thousand],” said Austin.

Austin added that student advocacy helped secure the extra $500,000 in funding.

“Students are giving everything to try and support each other, and I think there’s a lot of power in that.”