Nourish Cowichan co-found Fatima Da Silva says it’s her hope the provincial government will step forward and fund meals in schools to ensure all children have equal access to nutritious food.
Da Silva says they recently made an appeal directly to finance ministry officials.
“We got to present, actually a few weeks ago, to the ministry of finance committee for the 2023 budget and we’re really really hoping that eventually this government will make food equity for every single child a priority.”
She says government funded school meals would remove the stigma of poverty and ensure no child falls behind academically due to poor nutrition.
Da Silva says it’s her dream is to one day be put out of business because of a universal meal program at BC schools.
She says it’s “a battle that we’ve been fighting for the longest time.”
Da Silva says they had new schools coming into the program that were never included before.
During the school year that has just wrapped up, Nourish Cowichan made meals for 18 schools in the Cowichan Valley School District and over 800 students.
She says they also helped a school in Ladysmith establish its own school meal program.
Da Silva says the annual budget for the organization has now reached about $600,000.
She notes that the high price of gas and food is hurting families and no one is immune – even Nourish Cowichan which experienced an increase of $3000 for things it regularly purchases.
Da Silva says they’re aware it will likely get worse, and they are “getting ourselves mentally and logistically ready for the new school year coming in, because I think we’re going to have a lot of families reaching out directly.”
The volunteers at Nourish Cowichan are planning to take a much needed break during the summer, but not before preparing food hampers for families in the Cowichan Valley that have reached out to them for help during this time.
Meanwhile, the two day 89.7 Juice FM Radiothon for Nourish Cowichan concludes today at Red Arrow brewing in Duncan.
Last year’s event raised more than $82,000 toward providing meals and snacks for schools in SD79.