NLPS receiving $1.46 million to bolster school food programs, school supplies support

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Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is receiving $1.46 million from the B.C. government’s student and family affordability fund meant to support families hit hard by rising costs related to inflation.

The one-time funding will distribute $60 million to school districts to facilitate expansion of school food programs and assist families in need with costs of school supplies and fees related to activities like field trips, the province announced Aug. 29.

“Many families in B.C. are feeling the effects of global inflation on daily costs, including groceries, school supplies and other school expenses,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and Child Care via news release. “We’re taking action by providing more funding that school districts will use to help meet the needs of families and students.”

The Federation of Independent School Associations will also receive $3.8 million to support families.

How NLPS will allocate its share of the funds is yet to be determined. The school district’s director of communications, Dale Burgos, said district staff will be consulting with the district parent advisory council, Nanaimo Ladysmith Schools Foundation – who supports 1,200 students through its school meals programs – and others in the coming weeks. How many additional students may benefit from the injection of funding is not known at this time.

“There has been an increase in supports needed for families,” Burgos said. “This was witnessed during the global pandemic. For this school year, it is still unclear on how many families might be struggling with the increases in daily costs.”

All schools in the district receive some measure of support from the district or the Nanaimo Ladysmith Schools Foundation for food programs, school staff support, supplies, clothing and school activities, Burgos said. Many schools in the district also receive support from local organizations. People for a Healthy Community administers several food programs at Gabriola Elementary, including weekly pay-what-you-can hot lunches, breakfast meals and emergency snacks and lunches.

Families who may need to access support from the school district can speak to their child’s teacher or school principal, Burgos said, and can also reach out to Nanaimo Ladysmith Schools Foundation.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder