UBC Undergraduate Research

AMS Food Bank Strategy to Support all Members Kingsland, Alexander; Priest, Lauren; Shojaei, Ebod; Villafuerte, Julian

Abstract

The AMS Food Bank is an emergency food relief service that serves food insecure students at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada (Alma Mater Society of UBC, n.d.). The purpose of this student-led research project was to investigate and implement new strategies for the AMS Food Bank to address their well-being needs in an effort to alleviate food insecurity beyond the provision of emergency food relief. The objectives of this project were to identify best practices for registering members at food banks to monitor needs, to evaluate the needs of AMS Food Bank members and their awareness of additional support resources, and to deliver a strategy to communicate information to members about resources that address their needs. We used three research methods to develop a communication and management strategy. The first was a review of best practices for registering members at food banks and monitoring well-being needs. The second was an analysis of the registration and visitation data collected by the AMS Food Bank between 2013-2017 to understand user patterns and the current usership of the Food Bank. The third was the collection and analysis of primary data collected from Food Bank members through an online survey questionnaire to evaluate perception of the AMS Food Bank, user experience, well-being needs, awareness of additional resources, and preferred communication strategies. Key findings of our research include that 37% of AMS Food Bank members had experienced severe food insecurity, the most frequent users of the AMS Food Bank were predominantly off-campus graduate students supporting families, and that the majority of members were interested in learning about financial support resources through a monthly newsletter and website content. The outcomes of this project include a communication strategy entailing a monthly newsletter, a welcome email for new members, and proposed modifications to the member registration system. We recommend to the AMS Food Bank that they further develop and implement our proposed communication strategy and member registration system modifications. Our research notably highlights the success of the AMS Food Bank as a low-barrier model for all students experiencing varying levels of food insecurity. As a next step, we recommend that the AMS Food Bank explore the opportunity to build on the success of their low barrier approach, and further to explore community food hub models implemented elsewhere. We expect that our contributions, and the steps that follow, will advance the AMS Food Bank as a service that not only provides emergency food relief, but also addresses the root causes of student food insecurity. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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