Alberni high school grocery cupboard program a success

A quiet little program at Alberni District Secondary School called the ‘grocery cupboard’ is producing big results with students.

Alberni District Secondary vice principal Shawn Shahi and Pat Bouchard help assemble ADSS breakfast foods for students through the Grocery Cupboard program.

Improved graduation rates and attendance are benefits behind the growing breakfast club at the Alberni District Secondary School.

The four-year old club feeds more than 400 students in eight different areas of the high school, coordinator Mel Burton said.

The program is volunteer driven and operates five days per week.

The program costs $13,000 to administer. School District 70 underwrites $7,000, while local businesses and community groups supply the balance.

The program augments a provincially funded fruit and veggie program at the school.

Food is delivered to the school and is distributed to classes by student volunteers.

The program also provided snacks for students during exam week.

The initiative has expanded via the Parents Actively Supporting School program, which discreetly offers a grocery cupboard, hygiene kits and good quality donated clothing for students who need such items, Burton said.

Currently, Burton is looking for donations of dresses, suits and tuxes in advance of June’s graduation ceremony “for those students who may not be able to afford something like that,” she said.

The program has quietly grown in size and success in the four years it’s been around.

Breakfast feeds both students’ stomachs and minds and the school also benefits, ADSS principal Mike Ruttan said.

“Students’ attendance rates have gone from 88 per cent to 95 per cent,” Ruttan said.

Graduation rates have improved as well, especially for First Nations students.

“There were 36 aboriginal students in Grade 12 last year and 97 per cent of them graduated,” Ruttan said.

“The breakfast program is a big part of that.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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