Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Breakfasts of Champs
launches war on child poverty
Released by the Campaign to Elect Rick
Peterson, BC Conservative Party
Conservative Leadership candidate Rick Peterson today launched a
Grassroots Growth Project initiative to provide immediate and
long-term support for a province-wide school breakfast program as a
building block on the “War on Child Poverty”.
Peterson, a Vancouver
businessman who helped found an inner city school breakfast program
in 1993 that is currently supporting more than 700 children in seven
schools under the leadership of a local investment dealer, said that
his campaign’s Grassroots Growth Project will help win a key battle
in the “War on Child Poverty” by coordinating private sector and
government funding to support this program starting immediately.
“Child poverty rates in BC are the highest in Canada,” said
Peterson, “and the most visible and devastating aspect of that is
seen each and every day in many of our schools across the province
when kids come to school hungry, poorly clothed and not ready to
learn and grow.”
“Notwithstanding the need for responsible stewardship of BC’s
finances, and a real plan to get BC working again, we absolutely
need to assure a ‘grassroots’ investment in BC’s kids at this early
stage of their lives. Janet Green, my Deputy Leader candidate, will
coordinate this effort starting today as we lead this initiative
through to the election of a BC Conservative government in 2017.”
Peterson said that the lack of a coordinated and fully-funded
breakfast program that targets the neediest schools across BC shows
BC NDP and BC Liberal governments for the past two decades have
turned their backs on this problem at a huge social, economic and
human cost for the province.
“For those of us who’ve worked on school breakfast programs, it’s
clear that the government can’t do this on its own, as the BC NDP
would like. It’s also clear that we can’t walk away from the problem
as the BC Liberals have done and hope the private sector and
charities pick up the slack,” he said.
“Our project’s combination of private and public financing to
provide a targeted province-wide school breakfast program will be a
major battle to win in the war on child poverty.”
The Grassroots Growth Project will do the following:
1.. Immediately help source additional private sector financing and
other support for new or existing school breakfast programs.
Teachers, parents or anyone who requires help to establish or expand
a school breakfast program in their community are invited to contact
the Grassroots Growth Project.
2.. Over the next three years work with teachers, parents,
non-profit groups and communities across BC to identify schools that
have a real and measurable need for a school breakfast program that
is not currently being met. A budget will be established, and
private sector sources will be solicited to determine their level of
support to a full five-year funding cycle of a particular school
breakfast program. Final budget and support levels will be
determined by December 31, 2016.
3.. In October of 2017 a BC Conservative Government, on the first
day of the Fall sitting of the Legislature, will table a bill
establishing government support for a clearly defined list of school
breakfast programs for a five-year period, based on the Grassroots
Growth Project budget totals. The level of government support will
be determined by the gap between the total investment required minus
the private sector, individual and charitable commitments.
Peterson said that the lack of government leadership on this
question has left a patchwork of temporary and inherently unstable
solutions from private sector groups, individuals and charities that
are still stretched to the limit and cannot cover all the
requirements. Economic downturns or individual circumstances can
eliminate this support on very short notice.
“It’s going to take a lot of work to see exactly what the costs are
of this program, but we should be able to nail that down fairly
quickly,” he said. “Based on my experience, the number is around
$100 per child per year.”
He pointed out, as an example, a recent Vancouver Sun Children’s
Fund commitment of $15,000 per year over five years for a school
breakfast program that will feed 130 children in Vancouver’s
Champlain Heights Elementary School, meaning an average cost of $115
per student each year.
“It’s estimated that the total population of kids under the age of
15 in BC next year will be just over 700,000. If 1 out of 5 children
in BC is living in poverty, that would mean potentially 140,000
children and youth would need a school breakfast program at a cost
of $115 per student, for a total of $16.1 million. The final total
required would be much less after taking into account private and
Peterson said that a BC Conservative government will redirect
funding from one or more of any number of other areas of the
provincial budget to pay for this program.
As an example, in 2011-2012 the Government Communication and Public
Relations group had a $26.1 million budget and employed 225 people,
including 18 in ‘media monitoring’.
“I’m sure BC taxpayers would agree this money would be better spent
on a school breakfast program rather than serving as Premier Clark’s
personal PR program and newspaper clipping service, especially at a
time when anything they could possibly need is found for free on
A second funding source,
said Peterson, could be the Pacific Carbon Trust. Former BC Auditor
General John Doyle last year pointed out in a report that the
province’s schools were among the 128 public sector organizations
that provided $18.2 million to the PCT in 2010.
“That money, and the additional amounts that have come in since
then, are clearly better used to feed hungry kids at school instead
of being sent back to corporations that have billions of dollars on
their balance sheets.”
Learn more about Rick Peterson at
www.rickpeterson.net For more information on the Grassroots
Growth Project, e-mail
Copyright (c) 2014 The Valley Voice