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.