VSB plans to use only 68% of provincial food funding to expand food programming
VANCOUVER (Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territories) - The provincial government gave the Vancouver School Board (VSB) $5.5 million to expand services to feed hungry students. But tonight, unless the ABC majority changes their minds, the Board will decide that it will only spend 68% of that on expansion of food programs.
As child poverty looms at 17% and hunger worsens across Vancouver, the ABC school board feels that $1.8 million is better spent elsewhere.
OneCity Vancouver school trustee Jennifer Reddy is demanding that the full food budget be spent on new food programs for students.
“Hunger continues to devastate many of our students and families,” said Reddy. “If the school board received $5m to fund new food programs for kids, it should be spending $5m IN ADDITION TO our usual allocation on new food programs for kids.”
The VSB received the funding through the 2023 provincial budget which allocated $213m for school food programs across B.C.
The $1.8m that is supposed to be spent on new food programs for kids could have a tremendous impact across the city. That money could buy 240,000 meals. Or, it could cover upgrades for 36 school cafeterias so that food could be prepared on site.
“Imagine having $1.8m specifically allocated to feed hungry kids in Vancouver communities and deciding not to spend it to expand services,” Reddy said. “This shows a wanton disregard for children and families in need.”
Jamie Smallboy is a single mother with five children who have attended school in the Vancouver district. She says the food programs are crucial for kids in need.
“Maybe board members don’t feel the hunger my kids feel,” Smallboy said. “We need every dollar so that our kids can be well enough to learn. They’re taking from our kids’ mouths.”
The decision to allocate food funding to the operating budget and pre-existing food programs headlines a number of questionable VSB budget decisions that includes cuts to adult education teachers, cuts to the book buying budget and a complete lack of financial attention to child care.
“The current board needs to reconsider these budgetary decisions and make students, and especially vulnerable students, a priority again,” said Reddy.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
OneCity Vancouver communications committee