Adopt-a-School: Wishing Tree finally starts to deliver
May 8, 2016
Adopt-A-School: Former St. George’s student still pitching in for needy Vancouver children
December 26, 2014
Adopt-A-School campaign raises record funds for B.C. kids
May 12, 2019
Hungry children need our help
Some dangerous childhood conditions can be prevented in seconds: measles, mumps, polio, meningitis, diphtheria. But there’s no inoculation against hunger, no needle in the arm to ward that off.
It takes three meals a day to prevent hunger and its companion, misery. Yet for many children living in poverty, three meals in 24 hours is an experience seldom enjoyed.
Schools all over this province report children coming to class hungry every day because families living on social assistance or trying to survive on minimum wage can’t stretch their money far enough to feed their kids adequately.
Helping schools feed these children is one of the main purposes of The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-A-School campaign, now entering its fifth year.
And if hunger is relentless so, too, are we in seeking our readers’ help.
Today we are asking you once again to come to the assistance of children whose lives are blighted by poverty and for their teachers, too, who should not be expected to handle this deprivation alone.
In the coming weeks we will be publishing stories about schools seeking help as well as reports from schools who received assistance last year and what that has done for them.
Alleviating childhood hunger in British Columbia is a task beyond the power of this newspaper. That task belongs to government. All we can do, for now, is fill in the potholes.
But the size of the problem is staggering. There are thousands of children in B.C. going to school hungry. It is a situation that distresses teachers and school administrators as it would any right-minded person.
Adopt-A-School is helping feed hundreds of children daily and no school that has sought help to feed its children has been turned down.
Last year, more than 30 schools received money for emergency food programs and it accounted for the largest portion of the $566,824 distributed among 60 schools.
(Since 2011, more than 100 schools have received help and for many it is ongoing.)
Impoverished children are not only arriving at school hungry, some are in need of winter clothing and shoes and these needs, too, have been met by Adopt-A-School.
The campaign also provided teachers with food vouchers and cash to help struggling families when emergencies strike, transit tickets to get their children to school, baby food and supplies for teenage mothers attending classes — a whole catalogue of needs, including technology for autistic and special needs children. We have built kitchens in schools, put in washers and dryers so families without access to laundry facilities had somewhere to clean their children’s clothes.
Since we started the campaign in 2011 more than $2 million has been raised in reader donations, but significant sums and goods have also been given directly to schools.
However, nothing has changed in those four years to alleviate childhood poverty.
B.C. doesn’t have a poverty reduction plan, it still has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the country, social assistance benefits haven’t been raised in almost a decade, the minimum wage isn’t sufficient for a single person to live on — given the cost of rental housing in the Lower Mainland — let alone a family.
The results are the child who comes to school hungry, ill-clothed and ill-equipped to learn and the many small tragedies played out at the school door between despairing teachers and desperate parents.
Our campaign seeks to reduce this angst and desperation and our readers’ concern and generosity is doing just that.
A small example: It was at the first breakfast served at the first school we helped and a teacher pointed to a small child who was eating.
“That child there,” she said. “In all the time she’s been at this school I’ve never seen her smile, until now.”