Teachers care about more than grades.
And that is why Nicola-Similkameen School District is partnering with the local food bank to provide essentials to students whose families are in need.
The district has donated $2,000 to the Princeton Food Bank, and $5,000 in Merritt. In turn food bank volunteers are bagging packages and taking them to local schools. Those are being picked up by teachers and education assistants, and delivered to the doorsteps of students whose families have said they could use a little help as they deal with the financial impacts of COVID-19.
“We have some families that are really struggling,” said district assistant superintendent Jameel Aziz. “We know it’s just the start.”
The cash donations represent dollars that would ordinarily be spent on the schools’ free breakfast and lunch programs, he said.
As teachers returned to empty classrooms this week, their first priority was to make individual contact with each student’s family. Aziz said while those calls and emails will help establish plans to support education in the home, the first question asked was about how families are coping, and if they need assistance.
“We will continue to find ways to support people who need support.”
While Aziz could not specify how many families will benefit from the initiative, he said in his experience usually 20 to 30 per cent of students use a school food program.
Mark Howarth, manager of the Princeton Food Bank, applauded the move.
“It’s people rising up and serving their neighbours. It’s a great thing to see happen.”
While the food packages will vary depending on what is available, they presently contain macaroni and cheese, beans and pork, tins of vegetables, soup and tuna, noodles and peanut butter.
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