Let's get real about poverty in Alberta
On our Facebook page, we asked teachers to comment on the impacts of poverty they see, the initiatives that are occurring at their schools and what more should be done.
Hungry kids and issues of food security at home as well as unstable home environments.
Kids who come in with poor quality food or the very bare minimum to get them through the day. Other kids won't always finish their school-provided snacks because they want to take them home to share with family at home. Kids who come to school not able to learn because their basic needs are not being met at home. Parents who come with shame on their faces asking the school for extra food or a break in fees.
Parents often have no transportation to/from school to pick children up in the event of an emergency or illness. Some are “couch surfing” with their children, and the children are then vulnerable to abuse, especially sexual abuse.
Hungry/malnourished or poorly nourished students. Fast/processed food is cheaper than healthy food, so students often have low energy, get sick more often and have poor attendance. All schools should have a healthy breakfast/snack food option.
Instability at home as different adults move in and out of the home.
Hungry kids who come to school wearing the same clothes everyday, in part because they don’t own other clothes.
High school kids often end up pushed to take jobs early either to help pay the rent or to be able to help on a family farm.
Hungry kids with no supplies who come to school when they’re sick because no one can afford to stay home and take care of them ... or they have to stay home until someone gets off night shift to bring them to school.
Many students in my classes have used the Jacket Racket program so they have warm, well-fitting clothes for the winter. I still keep a box of hats, mitts, vests and hoodies to supplement those who need them.
Glendon School runs a breakfast program that is funded primarily through grants, donations and volunteers. It has made a world of difference in the learning of our students and provides an opportunity for positive social interactions as they gather around the breakfast tables.
Routhier School in Falher has a lunch program. Each day a healthy lunch is dropped off in students’ lockers.
My school has the following initiatives that make a HUGE impact on poverty in the classroom:
Read other articles from this series on poverty in Alberta
- Breakfast and snack program
- Free Footie Soccer, a free soccer program for grades 3 to 6
- Full-day kindergarten funded by the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation
- Our parent council heavily subsidizes our field trips so our parents do not have to pay the full cost
- Free family barbecues and events
- Free clothing, shoes and school supplies. ❚