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Budget bites SD 70 school meal program

The SD 70 school meals program costs more to deliver than there is money to underwrite it, secretary treasurer Jerry Linning said.

Scale back meals or find a way to increase the resources that make them possible: that’s the dilemma facing the school meals program in School District 70.

The 15-year-old program serves 100,000 breakfasts and lunches to students across SD 70 per year and costs $360,000 to deliver, secretary treasurer Jerry Linning told trustees at their Tuesday meeting.

The program is underwritten with Community Links funding cost recovery from parents but that still leaves a $70,000 shortfall. “The dollars we spend on the program are getting very tight,” Linning told trustees.

The district has a $35,000 meals program surplus which it can apply to the funding shortfall, but further options are needed to pear it down.

The program operates on the honour system with no application to be made or threshold test to meet. One option already carried out is asking parents who can afford to pay for it to do so.

The other measure would be to curtail the number of meals provided to scale back costs.

In response to a question from trustee Rosemarie Buchannan about who contributes to the program, Linning replied that local stores do contribute to the breakfast program.

Trustees agreed to approach the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District about resources it might have for health issues. Meals are a determinant of health, trustee Glenn Wong said.