Letter: Can UBC do better to feed its food insecure students?
The Ubyssey – Recently, the UBC Library, the AMS and the UBC Okanagan Students Union ran the bi-annual Food for Fines Campaign. The campaign invites students to reduce their UBC library fines by donating non-perishable food items: $3 in fines paid for each food item donated (to a $60 maximum). The donations go to the UBC AMS Food Bank on Campus and the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, which provide — up to six times a term — food relief for hungry UBC students.
At first glance, this food charity initiative looks like a triple win situation for students: we escape library debt; we support a noble cause and if food waste is reduced, we make good use of that tuna can about to expire. However, evidenced-based and internationally-recognized Canadian research shows that food banking as a response to food insecurity is ineffective, counterproductive and undermines human rights.
Food charity is a band-aid solution that fails to address the structural causes of household food insecurity. As PROOF, a Canadian insecurity research team, says food insecurity is a problem of financial constraints. A food bank might alleviate the urgency of hunger but fails to offer a proactive and sustainable income based solution. Having eaten her can of tuna and still without money, the student using the AMS food bank finds herself in the same vulnerable position. Or worse, if it is her sixth visit.
Written by Laura Castrejon and Graham Riches