Not all the funds from the food bank levy to which all students pay are being spent on the food bank.
According to emails from UTMSU and financial documents for past years, UTMSU anticipates funds being left over from the food bank on an annual basis, despite the problems that the food bank is currently facing.
These problems, reported on in an article last week (“Food bank calling for changes”), include limited space and resources despite growing usage.
“At the end of every fiscal year, we review all our operations,” said VP external Ebi Agbeyegbe in an email. “When we have a surplus for the food bank operation, the surplus is moved to the UTMSU operating budget.”
Last week, The Medium reported that UTMSU’s preliminary operating budget for the 2013/14 year anticipated $2,790 being left unspent from the student levy at the end of the year.
The preliminary budget also contains actuals from 2009/10, the first year that the levy was in effect, showing that the only food bank expenses that year were on staff salaries and benefits, and none on food, leaving a surplus of $8,565.
The same document shows an expected surplus of $2,717 for the 2012/13 year and $3,700 for the 2011/12 year. It is unclear how much was actually left over since more recent actuals have not been provided to The Medium, and audits from past years do not break down the spending from this specific levy.
Agbeyegbe noted that the union’s board has the authority to allocate extra funding to the food bank if it exceeds its total budget, which he said was approximately $14,000 (the documents put it at around $12,500).
it is unclear whether such an allocation of additional funds has ever happened.
It is also unclear at press time whether the board can or has intentionally allocated less funding to the food bank than the amount collected through the levy.
Agbeyegbe did not respond to follow-up questions on these points.
Many relevant financial documents are not available on the UTMSU website as of press time, though VP internal Bryan Chelvanaigum said they would be uploaded by Friday.
This year’s preliminary budget was also not available online, nor has UTMSU released it to The Medium despite claims that it would do so.
Part-time and full-time students currently pay $0.55 per session towards the food bank levy, which has been increased regularly to keep up with inflation.