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Langley Secondary School: At least 40 students arrive hungry to school every day
$7,595 raised
76% of $10k goal
15 contributors
0 days left
Ended Nov 25, 2019

Each month, kitchen staff at Langley Secondary serve more than 2,000 breakfasts to students arriving at school hungry, many of them refugees, immigrants, or from local families struggling with poverty.

About 120 students a day come to school looking for food.

But a loss of funding is threatening Langley Secondary's breakfast program, said Brad Hendy, a community school co-ordinator.

"These are the neediest kids. The principal doesn't know what he's going to do unless we can find another source of funds," said Hendy.

The school is asking The Vancouver Sun's Adopt-A-School campaign for $10,000 to help pay the cost of breakfasts and lunch.

At least 40 students a day arrive without food and are provided with a free lunch.

"These are our most vulnerable students who can't afford to bring lunch to school," said Hendy.

Breakfast and lunch for students in need have been subsidized by money from the provincial Community Link funds, the Langley Foundation (lunch only), and the Christian Life Assembly, which is next door to the school on 56th Avenue.

It costs the school $28,000 a year to feed students who would otherwise go hungry all day.

However, one of the major sources - Community Link funds - is being withdrawn from the breakfast program as the school district repositions its use of the provincial grant.

This leaves Langley Secondary with just the church next door for help with breakfasts.

And the school needs more than that, said Hendy.

"There will be a deficit of about $9,000 this year for breakfast. Our goal is to ensure that no child goes without breakfast or lunch each day," he said.

Christian Life Assembly sends in volunteers twice a week to help set up and serve breakfast and then stay to clean up.

The church gives the school $200 a month to help toward food costs.

"They are our neighbours. We are right next door and we want to support the school," said church member Mandy Martens. "We asked what we could do to help, and they asked if we could help with breakfast."

Hendy is asking for individuals, organizations and companies to come forward and help the school.

"We invite the community to help us. Our project and long-term goal is to make the breakfast and lunch programs sustainable for years to come," he said.

"The school doesn't have a lot of community support or a lot of people coming in to help them. Grants are great, but if they ever dry up, you need local volunteers attached to the program to keep it sustainable. If we get community help, then the money from The Sun, instead of lasting just one year, will last several."

Within the past few months this newspaper has carried stories concerning poverty that should cause alarm in the minds of most right thinking people.

One disclosed that hundreds of homeless children can be found in the Greater Vancouver area -- 681 according to a survey.

Another spoke of the continuing delay by a B.C. government to formulate a poverty reduction plan in a province that has the highest rates of child poverty in the country.

Yet another spoke of the insidious effect poverty was having on the mental health of children.

So what is being done?

B.C. is the only province without a poverty reduction plan despite the fact that 557,000 residents -- including a fifth of our children -- are living in conditions so abject as to endanger them physically, mentally and morally.

The NDP government came to power promising to improve the lives of the poor but we won’t know until next year what their plan entails although its aim, apparently, is a drastic reduction of poverty levels by 2024.

Now that must seem a long way off when today you don’t have enough money to eat and pay the rent or can’t buy your child a pair of shoes or a winter coat.

So until this brave new world arrives when, hopefully, thousands of children aren’t coming to school hungry, or traumatized by the dehumanizing stresses of living in destitution this newspaper will continue its efforts to help them through our Adopt-A-School (AAS) campaign.

It will also continue to demand that the government implement a program to ensure children who need feeding at school get fed.

AAS was launched in 2011 and this will be our eighth appeal.

“To date  $3.8 million has been distributed to 140 schools throughout the province,” said Harold Munro, editor of the Vancouver Sun-Province newspapers and chair of The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund board which oversees Adopt-A-School.

“Last year almost $600,000 was sent to schools to help alleviate the effects poverty was having on students -- buying food, clothing, and other necessities. The money was distributed to teachers who have to deal with the stress of seeing children in pitiful states without any other means of help,” he said.

“Without the support of our readers who have stood with us, nothing could have been done, only more of the helpless hand wringing the poor are all too familiar with.”

This fall the Sun has received requests from close to 80 schools totalling more than $800,000 -- most asking for help to feed children.

In September The New York Times carried a front page story about children in a wealthy, first world country arriving at school unfed, hungry and chronically in need of help. That a prestigious North American newspaper found such a story worth the telling is significant.

The story -- with a few geographical alterations -- could well have fitted into the pages of this newspaper’s AAS coverage anytime in the last seven years.

Their reporter went to Morecambe -- a small seaside town in the northwest of England.

Teachers there said that until recently they had never seen children arriving in such a state.  What shocked them most was that many were children whose parents had jobs who in the past could be expected to feed them.

The conditions the NYT found in Morecambe can be found here.

However, there are some differences between Morecambe and Vancouver.

Firstly, we have had this state of affairs far longer than four or five years and the level of privation in our children is much worse.

Unlike humble Morecambe, the working poor here have the added burden of living in one of the world’s most heated real estate markets which has driven rents to a point where -- for the poor -- it becomes a toss up between paying rent or eating.

Teachers have consistently pointed to that dilemma as one of the main evils suffered by families trying to exist on income assistance or minimum wage jobs.

It results in families constantly going hungry at weekends, some with no food or, as we discovered in one case, with only an onion to share between them.

It is the reason The Vancouver Sun is again asking readers for their continued support, said Munro.

“There are scores of requests from schools desperate to give these children and families the dignity of being fed, clothed and cherished,” said Munro.

“This is not an appeal for charity as it is for justice. These children are voiceless, they suffer the indignity of hunger and privation in silence  and their pain is only apparent to their teachers.

“We can’t leave it like that,’ said Munro.

“In the next few months we will be sharing their stories. Please, if you are in a position to help, join with us. One hundred percent of your donation will go to these children.”

An idea of what some teachers here are dealing with is apparent from an email recently received from an inner-city school teacher ostensibly describing how donations of clothing -- thanks to AAS -- were coming into her school.

But it finished with a telling account of her day:

“... then I hear of six people sleeping today in a living room … or a 14-year-old pregnant … or a child seeing a parent using a needle … and (see) kids killing (bed) bugs in the palms of their hands while learning to read … and I’m so grateful to have this huge village helping our families. “I’m exhausted.”

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