Need for food and clothing for schoolkids greater than ever

Need for food and clothing for schoolkids greater than ever

The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-A-School program has sent $1.4 million to 161 schools this year to help feed and clothe children.

The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-A-School program has sent $1.4 million to 161 schools this year to help feed and clothe children whose parents are finding it difficult to pay their bills while working at minimum-wage jobs or are on social assistance.

Several principals and teachers that requested help from Adopt-A-School reported that families living below the poverty line are being devastated by the high cost of rent and skyrocketing food prices.

As result, they are unable to meet living expenses and adequately feed and clothe their children, and more children are arriving at school hungry, without food for the day, or inadequately dressed for the weather.

The increased numbers of children needing help has resulted in New Westminster school district requesting $45,000 from Adopt-A-School to bolster its emergency food programs, while Vancouver school district requested an extra $50,000.

Jon Ross, a supervisor with the Surrey school district’s Wraparound program that helps children deemed high-risk, described the devastating effects this cost-of-living surge is having on impoverished families.

“There’s a mother with three kids. She’s a single, hard-working parent in a minimum-wage job, but last year after paying rent and expenses sometimes she would run out of money to buy food for them all and we’d help her using Adopt-A-School funds,” he said.

“This year, she’s been evicted from her home and her new place is costing her $350 a month more. How is she going to manage now? That’s the kind of awful situation some families are finding themselves in.”

Many parents lost jobs because of the pandemic, now into its third year. The health crisis combined with destruction caused by wildfires and floods last year put pressure on more B.C. families and led to an increase in the number of schools seeking Adopt-A-School help.

This year, the campaign helped 161 schools compared to 123 last year — a 31-per-cent increase.

Since Adopt-A-School began in 2011, more than $9.3 million has been sent to hundreds of schools to help teachers feed and clothe impoverished children.

A total of 34 B.C. school districts sought help this year, with the overwhelming majority of requests for money to feed children.

The two largest school districts — Surrey and Vancouver — received $411,000 and $239,000, respectively.

Harold Munro, editor-in-chief of The Vancouver Sun and Province, is board chair of the Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund that administers Adopt-A-School. He said the generosity of readers is helping thousands of school children and their families.

“The response from our readers to children whose families are struggling to pay rent and buy food is enabling us to support every school that has asked for help to feed these children,” said Munro.

“Since we began Adopt-A-School 10 years ago, we have never once failed to help a school buy food, and in many cases our funds have helped teachers buy clothes and other necessities for children in need.

“I just can’t thank our donors enough — those who have been with us from the beginning and those who have come later. With your help, thousands of children have been fed, millions of meals served. It’s breathtaking what your concern and generosity has achieved.

“Please accept my sincere thanks for the part you have played in helping children who are suffering through no fault of their own.”

By Gerry Bellett (

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