Three Vancouver and two Surrey schools will share 100 cases of tuna donated by Richmond’s Blundell Seafoods for families living in poverty as part of the company’s donation to The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-A-School campaign.
“I’ve been reading stories in The Sun and have been touched by the plight of families that don’t have enough to eat,” said company general manager Jeremy Law.
Four of the schools will each receive 20 cases containing 24 cans of tuna, for a total of 480 cans.
Vancouver’s Queen Alexandra Elementary will receive 20 cases containing 180 large commercial-sized cans holding 1.7 kilograms of tuna.
“As a company we believe in giving back because the community has been very good to us over the years,” said Law, whose company employs 110 people and is the largest independent fish-processing and distribution company in Western Canada.
Blundell Seafoods, founded in 1975, has also helped Richmond’s Pathways Clubhouse, an organization that supports people recovering from mental illness.
“We’ve been involved in their work-transition program that provides real-time work experience to help people back into the workforce. We’ve ended up hiring some of them,” he said.
But the depth of poverty in Vancouver has surprised him.
“I had no idea it was affecting so many children. We’re always hearing about the super rich and how property values are soaring in the city, but hardly anything about the struggles of the poor and the marginalized,” he said. “Other food industry companies should consider doing something.”
On Thursday, a company truck unloaded 20 cases at Norquay Elementary and a similar amount at Mount Pleasant Elementary.
This week, 20 cases will go to Queen Alexandra Elementary volunteers Pam Bragagnolo and Tracey MacKinlay for their Fill The Gaps program which, twice monthly, provides 25 families with all the food for a weekend meal for six, including cooking instructions.
In Surrey, Old Yale Elementary and Ecole K.B. Woodward Elementary will receive 20 cases each.
Surrey school district business development manager Liane Ricou said the donation was “very timely” in the case of Old Yale Road as its supply of emergency food for impoverished families had almost run out.
“It’s just a great help,” said Norquay principal Margaret Jorgensen. The tuna shipment will go into the school’s SOS store, which makes food available free to families living in poverty.
The store is stocked with nonperishable food available all year as a result of donations made by Assante Wealth Management to Adopt-A-School. The donation also pays for 20 Christmas turkey hampers for needy families.
“We have a number of families living below the poverty line. We need canned chicken, canned ham and tuna so they have some protein. This donation will be of great help to us,” said Jorgensen.
Mount Pleasant principal Jann Schmidt said she will give a case each to those families who receive a $25 food voucher each Friday – to see them through the weekend. (Mount Pleasant has received $12,000 from Adopt-A-School to provide these food vouchers.)
Law has also offered to provide fresh and frozen seafood to Mount Pleasant, and Schmidt will talk with the school district to see if it’s possible to accept non-perishable food.
“We will certainly do more if we can,” said Law.
By Gerry Bellett (firstname.lastname@example.org)