UBC Okanagan takes sting out of parking tickets for good cause

The Food for Fines program at UBC Okanagan raised almost $6,000 for the student-run food bank, The Pantry. Sydney Morton / Global News

The UBC Okanagan Food For Fines program takes the sting out of on-campus tickets, by translating 50 per cent of the monetary value into non-perishable food donations that are then donated to the UBCO Food Pantry.

Food security and nutrition manager for the Student Union Okanagan, Stephanie Patterson says that the program is helping them meet growing demand as more students need to access their services on a daily basis.

“The 2022/2023 school year was about 40 to 50 [students accessing the pantry] a day and now we are up to about 100,” said Patterson.
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“It’s huge, we see it in our various food security programs. There’s an increase across the board.”

On top of the daily usage of the pantry, Patterson says there has also been an increase in the number of students accessing the food hamper program which also supports up to 50 students each week. That’s where the Food For Fines program comes in, helping collect thousands of dollars worth of non-perishable food donations to stock the shelves.

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“You can have fine forgiveness on your parking tickets up to 50 per cent of the total once the fine has escalated past the 14-day period and we take food items in lieu of payment,” said Jeff Joyce, parking services manager at UBC Okanagan.

“We get a lot of people bringing in case lot sale Kraft Dinner, things like that.”

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The program began in 2019 and runs every November and February. This year, they collected almost $6,000 worth of food donations.

“It provides a huge influx of canned goods, lots of food stuffs, it probably sets us up for four to six weeks and it’s a great program for students to participate in,” said Patterson.

The UBCO pantry will be open through summer to support students who continue their studies through the warmer months.

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