Surrey School Breakfast Programs
$13,405 raised
13% of $100k goal
54 contributors
99 Weeks running
The Surrey school board needs $100,000 to feed 854 vulnerable students breakfast in 22 schools, students who otherwise would go hungry. The Attendance Matters Program is designed to encourage them to attend school and start the day fed and ready to learn.

Such is the state of poverty in some North Surrey homes that a family recently had only a single onion to eat between them all weekend.

“That’s all they had,” said Liane Ricou, an official with the Surrey School Board.

“We know of families that don’t even have that. They’ll go all weekend without eating anything,” she said.

Earlier this month, Ricou launched a pilot program to try and feed 25 poverty-stricken families — many of them refugees — whose children attend Old Yale Road and Lena Shaw elementary schools in the Whalley area.

“We want to get them through the weekend,” she said.

There are at least 10 schools in Surrey that urgently need a program similar to one in Vancouver, where children are sent home with a backpack of food on Fridays.

The only money for the program was $100 a week being donated by parishioners of the Relate Church at 6788 152nd St. and the Guru Nanak free kitchen.

“We’ve been trying to do something for a year because we’ve been hearing all these stories. But it’s hard to feed 25 families over a weekend with just $100,” she said.

“We just haven’t been able to buy what they need. We want to give them bread, pasta, pasta sauce, tuna for protein, fruit and vegetables, a box of cereal, milk, but it’s not possible.”

Three weeks in, Ricou asked if the Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-a-School program could help.

And so Vancouver businessman David Sidoo — a longtime supporter of the Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-a-School campaign — is donating $10,000 to provide emergency weekend food deliveries to those 25 families. It’s part of his family’s $30,000 pledge to this year’s campaign.

“We can’t leave families hungry like this,” said Sidoo, whose foundation has given more than $122,000 to schools since 2008.

(Since Sidoo came forward, the Relate Church and the Guru Nanak free kitchen have both pledged $750 a month until the end of June for the program.)

Sidoo also committed $20,000 this week to help feed hungry children at two Vancouver elementary schools.

Meanwhile, The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund Board, which supervises Adopt-a-School, announced that this year’s campaign resulted in 70 schools receiving more than $600,000 in grants to combat the effects of poverty among schoolchildren.

Most of it goes toward providing emergency school meals and setting up kitchens in schools that need to feed hungry children. It pays for clothing and footwear, and items such as lice kits, transit tickets, baby supplies for student mothers, field trips, and computer systems for special needs children. It provides bursaries to encourage at risk students to attend after-school tutoring and emergency funds for families — such as those in Surrey — without food.

“We would like to sincerely thank our readers for supporting Adopt-a-School and making this year’s campaign such a success,” said Vancouver Sun editor and chair of the children’s fund board Harold Munro.

This year, the Adopt-a-School campaign received two major donations from foundations — $100,000 from the Lohn Foundation and $126,384 from West Vancouver residents Jack and Leone Carlile.

The Lohn Foundation’s donation was made by Vancouver lawyer and Holocaust survivor Jack Kowarsky, who administers the fund.

The foundation has donated more than $30 million in the 25 years since the death of Earl Lohn, a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman who had amassed a real estate fortune worth $137 million at the time of his death.

The Lohn Foundation’s donation has been designated by Kowarsky to feed 800 impoverished children in 22 Surrey schools.

The Jack and Leone Carlile donation was left to the discretion of the children’s fund board for distribution.

The couple also donated $2 million recently to the Lions Gate Hospital to build a 10-bed unit for teenagers with mental health and addiction problems.

“We made the donation to Adopt-a-School because we just want to help children,” said Leone Carlile.

“We feel that is important.”

This province has children who arrive at school each morning hungry, improperly clothed or without adequate footwear.

Not just dozens or hundreds. Thousands.

All they can hope for is the compassion of teachers to help them endure these miseries. To their great credit it is not unusual to find teachers and principals attempting to feed and clothe these children out of their own pockets.

There was a time the education system could do more for children stricken by poverty but budget constraints have dried up most of that funding.

It was for this reason the Vancouver Sun began its Adopt-A-School (AAS) campaign five years ago when it became apparent that some teachers in Vancouver’s inner city schools were buckling under the stress and needed assistance.

So we asked our readers to help.

The help that materialized from individual and corporate donors was astonishing. It is not possible to put an accurate dollar amount on what readers have contributed because in some cases the help goes directly to schools. All we can say is that almost $3 million has been received here every penny of which is designated for schools across the province.

So here we are another year, another appeal for help.

But what else can we do? Hunger is incessant. You are only separated from it by thetime since your last meal. And for the poor that gap is often unmanageable.

In this campaign there will be accounts from teachers who say they see children arriving at school who have not been fed that morning, have no food to last the day and who will be returning home with no prospect of finding anything to eat there either. It is a description of starvation. How can we ignore it?

You will be told of children feeding other children at school splitting their lunches so their classmates won’t be left hungry. This is not something that children should be left to deal with.

Canada has a wonderful international reputation for coming to the assistance of countries devastated by natural disasters or conflict and our United Nations commitment is without peer. But we are the only developed nation that does not have a national food program to feed its hungry school children. Regardless of party perhaps our politicians can explain why it’s necessary for children to be feeding other children. This newspaper asked as much in an editorial earlier this year. No one, it seems, is in a hurry to answer.

Thanks to the generosity of our readers no school that has asked for help to feed children has been refused. Often they have received more than they sought. AAS has set up fully funded breakfast programs, has provided money for clothing, shoes and boots, lice kits, transit tickets, field trips, emergency food vouchers to help struggling families over weekends, helped young mothers attending school with their babies. We have equipped school kitchens with stoves and fridges, dishwashers, cutlery, and washing machines, equipped sensory rooms, rebuilt an abandoned greenhouse so it could grow vegetables for low income families, provided computers and other technical aids to special needs children.

In short done all we could to alleviate the awful effects that poverty inflicts on our children attending school.

This year is no different. Please help.

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