Suzanne Johnson, Day 5

Monday, 20 October 2014

So many things to write about today. As I struggle with the boredom of food and the extreme lack of flavour and as I desperately try to make something taste good on this $21/week diet I can’t help but think about the single mother of three who because of her high rate of rent actually had only 78 dollars per month to feed her family of four.

At the same time, I am working at one of my part time jobs as a Healthy School Coordinator with which at one school, I am tasked with the job of seeking funding to replace the cuts to our existing meal programs. (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada is cutting back funding for social programs on all First Nations reserves.) So …. Fundraising for school programs …. $500 here and $500 there each time requiring a considerable effort. The schools I work for are in communities with the highest number of people earning under $20,000 a year. Food insecurity is a significant issue with approximately 35% of families facing it to some degree. We don’t have that many stay at home moms who have the luxury of volunteer during the day at school.

There are many things we need to do to begin to counteract the future effects of poverty. Poverty often breeds poverty. Children who come to school hungry and cannot be adequately fed, do not learn and do not gain the skills required to even have a chance of stepping out of the poverty circle. If growing up on welfare is your ‘normal’ how do you know that you can aspire to something more? Raise the Rates poses some good demands to our provincial government:

Raise the Rates calls on the government to:

  • Increase income assistance to the Market Basket Measure
  • Remove the arbitrary barriers to receiving welfare
  • End the clawbacks of child support
  • Raise earnings exemptions
  • Increase the minimum wage to $15/hr
  • Build 10,000 social housing units a year
  • Provide high quality public childcare
  • Reverse the tax cuts for the rich and corporations and increase tax on people earning over $250,000 a year

I would also call for a universal provincial school breakfast program that included First Nations Schools and a universal lunch program that provided the needed assistance to offer meals that comply with the Guidelines for School Food and Beverage Sales in BC, for all students regardless of ability to pay, including First Nations schools.

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