P.E.I. home and school says profits shouldn't come before feeding kids

Dave Stewart
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Nathan Wheeler, Georgia Maxwell and Ben Nogler, students at Parkdale School, are joined by the late Drew Power's mother, Rae Anne Thomson, and his friend, Ryan Maxwell. The thirrd annual Drew Power Memorial Golf Tournament, held recently at the Belevedere Golf Club, donated money towards the school breakfast program.

The president of the P.E.I. Home and School Federation says profit shouldn't come before hungry children.

Peter Rukavina made a presentation to the English Language School Board recently where he spoke about the importance of not interfering with school food programs.

Rukavina talked about how in every school in the board students arrive in the morning without having eaten breakfast and often without any lunch.

He praised the efforts of administrators, teachers, staff, parents and guardians and community volunteers who run breakfast and lunch programs and school food cupboards, enabling many of the students to get fed.

However, he told the board that there have been some issues with those efforts.

"This fall we received troubling reports that, on occasion, school administrators are being called to task by board staff on behalf of vendors contracted to operate school cafeterias with a suggestion that these school and community efforts interfere with the vendors' profitability,'' Rukavina said.

Following his presentation, he told The Guardian that children who benefit from these food programs aren't typically children who spend money on food at school.

He asked that the board instruct its staff to suspend this type of communication to school administrators.

"Ensuring students are fed is a time-consuming and stressful enough endeavour. It is unreasonable for administrators to be required to defend the efforts of their school communities in this regard. These programs should be celebrated, not called into question. If additional focus should go anywhere, it should be on solving the larger food security issues that give rise to the need for these programs in the first place.''

Rukavina also hit on recent changes to education governance, saying the federation is happy that there will be more consultations about policy.

"While the changes to education governance incorporate a temporary moratorium on school closures, there was no suggestion that planning for other changes, (such as) school attendance zone boundary changes, school configuration changes, for example, would need to stop and we want to express our commitment to working with the board during this transition period to ensure that work on these issues continues.''

The federation also wants to work with board staff on issues such as developing and reporting on school effectiveness plans and regular consultation on common assessment results.

Ricky Hood, recently appointed sole trustee for the board, said he anticipates working very closely with the federation.

"It's all hands on deck. It's everyone's responsibility,'' Hood said.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: P.E.I. Home and School Federation, English Language School Board

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