To the editor:
Re: "School breakfast for kids in need only," Letters, Dec. 7.
Had the editor not cut out the financial information from my Nov. 30 letter, Mr. Herron might have been less hostile in his response of Dec. 7.
My point that neither the Ministry of Education nor the Vancouver School Board has demonstrated the fiscal competence necessary to reliably provide breakfasts to the vulnerable students in Vancouver can be verified by perusing the Ministry's website. Fact: since 2004 the Ministry, through community schools programs (Community-LINK), has bestowed $54 million per year to B.C. school districts to keep vulnerable students in schools.
Fact: VSB has received $8 to $9 million of those grants each year to support the need of such at-risk students. To summarize, for eight years, the VSB has received at least $64 million (eight years times $8M equals $64) in "stable funding for at-risk students" and the Ministry has granted $432 million (eight years times $54 million equals $432 million) province-wide for such students. Children who are hungry and lack nutritious food are tired, often ill and definitely at-risk/vulnerable. Yet, the spokesperson for COPE in an earlier Courier story stated: "CommunityLINK does not provide school breakfasts." My question to the Ministry and VSB trustees is, why not?
On a personal note, Mr. Herron reacted to my politically neutral opinion in a manner typical of politicians of all political persuasions and too many pseudo-journalists in the city and province. He assumes, because we differ on solutions for feeding the increasing numbers of vulnerable children, that I have not lived nor worked in East Vancouver, that I am "ill-informed" and that I am "condescending" because I made a reference to an important component of breaking the poverty cycle - parenting skills.
The questionable expenditures cited above and the failure of schools to meet the academic need of diverse, vulnerable students demonstrate why these institutions cannot take on more responsibilities.
It is the ministries of families and children - federal and provincial - that need to create and provide oversight to such programs.
Linda Chan, Vancouver