“We have never had so many requests for help before. It is a measure of our readers’ concern and generosity that we have been able to meet these requests.”
— Harold Munro, editor-in-chief of The Vancouver Sun and board chair.
The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund board has approved 121 grants totalling $1.2 million in recent months to schools and organizations attempting to alleviate the effects of poverty by feeding and clothing children arriving at school hungry or improperly dressed.
“We have never had so many requests for help before,” said Harold Munro, editor-in-chief of The Vancouver Sun and board chair. “It is a measure of our readers’ concern and generosity that we have been able to meet these requests.”
“I can’t thank you — our readers — enough. If you are a new donor or have been with us from the beginning I am grateful for what you allow us to do. Without your support for our Adopt-A-School (AAS) campaign many children would be left to suffer hunger while in school, or be without food at weekends.”
The requests received from schools make disturbing reading.
They indicate the depths of the problems facing many teachers who regularly find themselves confronted with hungry children or with students arriving at school in the winter without coats or with holes in their shoes.
These teachers and school administrators find themselves having to deal with families who are existing on minimum wage jobs or social assistance who after paying rent are unable to properly feed their children, or who have no resources when an emergency arises such as their child needing a prescription or dental care.
“It is a burden these teachers should not have to carry alone. This year, as in others, The Vancouver Sun’s coverage has found teachers paying out of their own pockets, or soliciting money from family and friends to meet some emergency affecting an impoverished family,” Munro said.
“We once again are asking senior governments to recognize this as the major social issue it is — affecting one child in five in this province — and do what other wealthy nations do and at least provide school meals for impoverished children.”
The United States government spends $18 billion a year on food programs for impoverished children. Canada has no government dedicated program for feeding hungry schoolchildren and leaves it to various charities and organizations to do what they can.
Adopt-A-School is the largest provider of private funding for this cause in the province.
Since 2011 approximately $7.8 million has been sent to schools where it is distributed to teachers and staff who are providing breakfast and lunch or other programs to help impoverished students.
Of the $1,200,057 disbursed during this campaign $1,017,677 was for food; $59,900 for activities; $10,000 for mentorships and $115,480 for tech-literacy programs.
While the majority of the money was sent directly to schools, other organizations such as Backpack Buddies, which provide emergency weekend food for families, and KidsSafe, which protects and feeds vulnerable children, received $146,750.
The money was distributed throughout the province and all requests from schools seeking help to feed impoverished children were met.
Surrey, the largest school district in B.C. received, $316,461, Vancouver, $268,605, and Langley $147,568. Eleven other school districts received varying amounts.
By Gerry Bellett (firstname.lastname@example.org)