16 November 2012
COPE calls for breakfast programs in all Vancouver inner city schools
The Education Committee of the Coalition of Progressive Electors, (COPE), following its recent day-long, successful conference on child and family poverty entitled, “Justice not Charity“, is calling for the introduction of school-board sponsored breakfast programs in all of the Vancouver Board of Education’s 14 inner city elementary schools.
“When we, as school-based principals, urgently requested the introduction of school lunch programs 25 years ago, we thought that we had made a sizeable dent in the problem“, said former principal and school trustee, Noel Herron. “However, with the rising tide of child poverty now threatening to overwhelm many schools, concrete and immediate action by school trustees is required. “
COPE is calling on the Vancouver Board of Education to immediately begin simultaneous planning and aggressive lobbying of the province for the introduction of breakfast programs in all of its identified elementary inner city schools in September 2013.
Currently the funding for the few existing breakfast programs (6 out of 14 schools receive partial funding) comes from companies, labour unions, service clubs, churches and national organizations such as the Breakfast Club of Canada, that have acknowledged the depth of child poverty and its devastating impact on schools. The current provincial Community LINK program does not fund breakfast programs.
“While private donations from corporations, lunch packs, lunch vouchers, donations of fresh food and vegetables are all wonderful, these are essentially emergency, ad-hoc programs that for the most part operate outside of schools and in the community,” says Marcy Toms, a COPE member and secondary teacher who volunteers at the Strathcona Community Centre breakfast program. She adds, “It’s high time that the VSB brings these humanitarian programs in from the cold and provides sustained, nutritious breakfasts for all of its hungry kids”.
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BACKGROUNDER ON CHILD POVERTY:
- 137,000 poor children in BC ( Statistics Canada (2009 figures )
- 87,000 estimated poor kids ,K-12 , in public schools
- BC has led the country for 7 years in a row in child poverty
- Breakfast Club of Canada notes that BC ,with only 10% of Canada’s population , comprises 25% of it s requests
- Metro food banks report a jump of 10% of their clients this year
- Food Banks Canada feeds 900.000 Canadians annually, of which one third are children.
- Three Vancouver schools and one community centre send home week-end food packages
- Breakfast for Learning ,a Surrey –based non-profit organization, reports a sharp increase in food security requests in Metro in the past year