Adopt-A-School: Nanaimo school’s food program will run out of money by Christmas
NANAIMO — Holly Knox has 200 or so impoverished teenagers who need to be fed breakfast and lunch every day, which requires 40,000 food servings for the entire school year.
But in September, she only had $9,500 in the bank to do it, and that amount is evaporating every week.
“Our money will run out at Christmas,” said Knox, the culinary arts teacher at John Barsby Community School on Seventh Street, south of Nanaimo’s city centre.
Each day, she and students in her cafeteria class need to make 250 meals in order to keep hunger — which has caused some students to fall ill and have panic attacks — under control at the school.
“There are many families, single parents, working-class poor parents — with three kids — struggling to make ends meet and wondering, ‘What am I going to be spending my money on this month?’”
It is a similar story throughout the province, with more than one-fifth of children living below the poverty line — thousands of them coming to school each day in need of food.
Larsen-Rogers said families on fixed income or with parents working minimum-wage jobs are often unable to provide sufficient food due to the cost of rent, or loss of employment from the pandemic. All made worse by a significant jump in the price of groceries this year.
So how does all this play out in her school?
“I don’t know if it’s because we are getting back to normal and have more students coming back to school, but I’ve seen more kids have what they think is a panic attack,” she said. “We’re lucky we have a doctor’s office in our school. One day, I sent three kids over there with the same symptoms.