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DPAC raises questions regarding the Feeding Futures program

Provincial funding replaced COVID-related Affordability program
School District 72 sign outside the board building. Photo by Edward Hitchins/Campbell River Mirror

Questions regarding the province’s affordability fund were raised during the initial District Parents Advisory Council (DPAC) meeting of Campbell River’s School District on Sept. 19.

First announced last August, the $60 million dollars earmarked by the province was to offset the potential difficulties families had during the pandemic. That money would go toward food to feed those in need, or purchase vital supplies they may need with their studies.

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However, last April, the province announced the “Feeding Futures” fund, which replaced the Affordability fund within the provincial government’s 2023 budget. It has put forth $214 million toward creating or expanding food programs within districts, including School District 72.

“Last year funds could be used toward getting supplies and building up kitchens,” said School District 72 (SD72) Superintendent Geoff Manning. “But (with) this year’s funding the government is targeting the 20 per cent of children they feel are coming to school … hungry.”

Representatives from the six schools that attended the DPAC meeting pointed out that some schools just have too much or not enough food.

“In some of the local chatter online groups, there are one or two mothers groups that say ‘I don’t have snacks to send my kids to school with,’” said DPAC Secretary Jayme Johnson. “School snacks are different from snacks you can make at home.”

She pointed to the rising costs of going to the grocery store, with inflation making prices rise by as high as four per cent last month.

“If you’re trying to make healthy snacks, grocery prices have skyrocketed,” said Johnson. “More and more people are asking for help every week.”

SD72 assistant superintendent Philip Cizmic says that more help is on the way to help these families, through the province’s food and veggie program.

“Schools will receive funding early next month for the food and veggie program,” Cizmic said. “It will provide new food and vegetables. Every three weeks a delivery will be made throughout. Every school has an allotment of funds to support family and snacks. That is what it is for.”

He stresses however, that the SD72 isn’t sure what will happen with the food program with regards to food preparation.

“That is one of the things we’re looking at,” said Cizmic. “Do we centralize it? Many schools in our district have the breakfast program that will make some lunches available. Different schools do it differently.”