“There are some students who come to school so hungry and undernourished they are unable to learn in the classroom,” said Jennifer Cook, Supervisor of Food Services for the VSB.
Traditionally, the VSB offered provincially-funded hot lunch programs to schools with high numbers of vulnerable learners. However, as neighbourhood demographics change, schools that were once designated as “inner city” may no longer have as many students in need.
The VSB reassesses the distribution of inner-city funding every five years. In September 2014, 17 elementary schools had begun a transition from a universal lunch program to a full-pay program. Families are expected to pay the full cost of the program (about $75-80 per month), with the VSB continuing to subsidize vulnerable children only.
Cook says this frees up resources to feed hungry students in other schools.
“We are aware now that we have vulnerable learners not just in select schools, but all across the city,” said Cook. “Our responsibility is to help these particular students wherever they might attend school.”
While no one will dispute that children need to eat, one must not forget the following:
– it is the duty of the parents- the primary caregivers – to look after their children in all respects, materially and otherwise
– why, exactly, are children going hungry? Wouldn’t be more efficient and humane to get to the underlying causes of this problem (jobs, higher taxes, neglect or abuse) then use up resources that may not go where needed (as above), dwindle or be inadequate in some way?
– any charity is a short-term solution. When economies shrink, belts tighten. One also runs the risk of creating circles of dependence instead of finding long-term solutions and self-sufficiency.