It may be a lofty aspiration but New Westminster school trustees have set into motion a plan to ensure that “no child is hungry and every child eats healthy.”
“Our job as trustees is to make these kinds of statements and to strive towards them. It’s aspirational language, absolutely, … but we have to put it down there to hold ourselves to a high degree of expectation,” said trustee Jonina Campbell.
Campbell introduced the motion at last month’s school board meeting. The idea is to create a district-wide policy to address food security and healthy eating amongst students, and to make sure students who aren’t getting enough or any food at home know where to access food at school.
The intention isn’t to single out these students, but rather to help them get the nutritious food they need without feeling embarrassed, she said.
“We have to be careful as school districts that even in what we perceive to be well-to-do or affluent areas, that poverty is hiding, and we never know. We need to make sure that there’s always access to food,” Campbell said.
In the Richmond school district, where Campbell works, there is a buy-in program for families that allows students to get healthy food. This is just one idea that could work for New Westminster, she said.
Right now, many elementary schools in New Westminster and other districts provide students with granola bars or snacks if they don’t have a lunch. While this is adequate, Campbell wants to see a fuller, district-wide program that goes beyond a snack-drawer approach.
But it’s not something that’ll happen overnight.
With trustee’s approval, staff have now begun investigating what kinds of policies exist at its 12 schools. In September, superintendent Pat Duncan will present staff’s findings in a report. He and staff will use these findings to develop a plan that could be implemented across the school district, including costs associated and the steps required to put the plan into action.
Duncan is expected to present the school board with a completed report, including a detailed plan for the district, by January 2018. Then it’ll be up to trustees to decide how to proceed from there.
“We’ve already begun,” Duncan told trustees.
“There will be costs associated with this, and I’ll have to come back to the board for approval.”