Com­mu­nity comes to res­cue of hun­gry fam­i­lies in Sur­rey

Lo­cal busi­ness­man David Si­doo among those sup­port­ing pro­gram

Vancouver Sun - - CITY - GERRY BELLETT

We want to give them bread, pasta, pasta sauce, tuna for pro­tein, fruit and veg­eta­bles, a box of ce­real, milk, but it’s not pos­si­ble.

Such is the state of poverty in some North Sur­rey homes that a fam­ily re­cently had only a sin­gle onion to eat be­tween them all week­end.

“That’s all they had,” said Liane Ri­cou, an of­fi­cial with the Sur­rey School Board.

“We know of fam­i­lies that don’t even have that. They’ll go all week­end with­out eat­ing any­thing,” she said.

Ear­lier this month, Ri­cou launched a pi­lot pro­gram to try and feed 25 poverty-stricken fam­i­lies — many of them refugees — whose chil­dren at­tend Old Yale Road and Lena Shaw el­e­men­tary schools in the Whal­ley area.

“We want to get them through the week­end,” she said.

There are at least 10 schools in Sur­rey that ur­gently need a pro­gram sim­i­lar to one in Van­cou­ver, where chil­dren are sent home with a back­pack of food on Fri­days.

The only money for the pro­gram was $100 a week be­ing do­nated by parish­ioners of the Re­late Church at 6788 152nd St. and the Guru Nanak free kitchen.

“We’ve been try­ing to do some­thing for a year be­cause we’ve been hear­ing all th­ese sto­ries. But it’s hard to feed 25 fam­i­lies over a week­end with just $100,” she said.

“We just haven’t been able to buy what they need. We want to give them bread, pasta, pasta sauce, tuna for pro­tein, fruit and veg­eta­bles, a box of ce­real, milk, but it’s not pos­si­ble.”

Three weeks in, Ri­cou asked if the Van­cou­ver Sun’s Adopt-a-School pro­gram could help.

And so Van­cou­ver busi­ness­man David Si­doo — a long­time sup­porter of the Van­cou­ver Sun’s Adopta- School cam­paign — is do­nat­ing $10,000 to pro­vide emer­gency week­end food de­liv­er­ies to those 25 fam­i­lies. It’s part of his fam­ily’s $30,000 pledge to this year’s cam­paign.

“We can’t leave fam­i­lies hun­gry like this,” said Si­doo, whose foun­da­tion has given more than $122,000 to schools since 2008.

(Since Si­doo came for­ward, the Re­late Church and the Guru Nanak free kitchen have both pledged $750 a month un­til the end of June for the pro­gram.)

Si­doo also com­mit­ted $20,000 this week to help feed hun­gry chil­dren at two Van­cou­ver el­e­men­tary schools.

Mean­while, The Van­cou­ver Sun Chil­dren’s Fund Board, which su­per­vises Adopt-a- School, an­nounced that this year’s cam­paign re­sulted in 70 schools re­ceiv­ing more than $600,000 in grants to com­bat the ef­fects of poverty among school­child­ren.

Most of it goes to­ward pro­vid­ing emer­gency school meals and set­ting up kitchens in schools that need to feed hun­gry chil­dren. It pays for cloth­ing and footwear, and items such as lice kits, tran­sit tick­ets, baby sup­plies for stu­dent moth­ers, field trips, and com­puter sys­tems for spe­cial needs chil­dren. It pro­vides bur­saries to en­cour­age at risk stu­dents to at­tend af­ter­school tu­tor­ing and emer­gency funds for fam­i­lies — such as those in Sur­rey — with­out food.

“We would like to sin­cerely thank our read­ers for sup­port­ing Adopt-a- School and mak­ing this year’s cam­paign such a suc­cess,”

Vice-prin­ci­pal Diana El­lis opens the door for David Si­doo and his wife, Manjy, who have pledged to sup­port a pi­lot pro­gram that pro­vides gro­ceries to some chil­dren at Sur­rey’s Old Yale Road el­e­men­tary school whose fam­i­lies are of­ten with­out enough food to get them through the week­end.

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