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No County child deserves to go hungry

Letter to the Editor:
In the roiling pot of high-profile council priorities, which includes such vital matters as climate, affordability, harbours, primary healthcare, water, County Road 49 and other infrastructure renewal, plus overall land use to name just a few… it is easy to overlook some of the little horseshoe things that are, well, not so little actually.

Take for example, the June 15th plea by the Hastings & Prince Edward Learning Foundation for council to continue supporting the “Feed The Meter Campaign” that supports our County kids’ student nutrition programs.

We certainly did that and then a few weeks later, on July 25th, council unanimously took a step much further.

No child deserves to be hungry at school; and school nutrition shouldn’t depend on parking meter donations.

On July 25th, council recognized that one in four children in Canada, and possibly one in three in Prince Edward County, live in a food insecure household; and asserted that food insecurity is a serious and growing social and public health concern that leaves an indelible mark on children’s well-being.

And that, in this time of unprecedented and unpredictable food and inflation challenges, something much more resilient and sustainable is required… especially since the Canada Child Benefit hasn’t seen a meaningful reform since 2016.

Indeed, the Canadian Medical Association published that same week that the clinical impact of a lack of healthy food on our youth’s mental health results in a 60 per cent higher likelihood of relying on healthcare systems for substance abuse disorders and a 74 per cent greater prevalence of emergency department and hospital admissions.

Sadly, that’s just the latest in a tsunami of data advocating urgent reform.

To press the point, our motion passed on July 25th also points to Canada as the only G7 country, and one of the only OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development)countries, without a national school food program.

In addition, it calls on Ottawa for a more equitable Canada Child Benefit focusing on low-income families struggling to make ends meet… and calls on the federal government to expedite its 2021 election promise to roll-out Canada’s first national school food policy.

Pointedly, while the motion is addressed to the prime minister and our provincial and federal municipal associations, it includes a sincere invitation to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development (now Jenna Sudds MP, phone 613-992-1119; to join us at council and share how that ministry is implementing support to those who need it most (especially school children), and how it is assuring that all Canadians have the right to access enough safe and nutritious food in a way that is socially acceptable and dignified.

Our municipal clerk has now formally communicated that invitation.

Bill Roberts
Councillor – Sophiasburgh PEC

Filed Under: Letters and OpinionNews from Everywhere Else

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  1. Dennis Margueratt says:

    One aspect of contributions to such activities as the H&PEC Learning Foundation that is often overlooked by concerned citizens is the contribution made by County Service Clubs populated by citizen volunteers. It is unfortunate that in recent years volunteerism has fallen out of favour with many resulting in the slow decline of Service Club and other organization’s ability to contribute to such worthy activities as helping to fund the H&PEC Learning Foundation.

    As an active member of the Kiwanis Club of Picton, founded in PEC in 1927, I have witnessed first hand our struggle to attract new members, particularly those new to the County, that would provide us the ability to better serve our community. We are still able to fund raise and contribute to County organizations albeit not on the same level we once enjoyed when our numbers and average Club age was much better than it is today.

    Service Clubs and Service organizations are critical to community life and community organizations such as the H&PEC Learning Foundation. They often fill the gap that different levels of government are either unable or unwilling to fill making a community stronger and more vibrant than it would be if such organizations did not exist. Joining a Service Club such as Kiwanis offers community members the opportunity to give back to their community while at the same time meeting new friends and enjoying an active social life. The time commitment is generally small, but the impact of that commitment can be wide ranging and extremely important to the fabric of a community.

    I encourage readers to consider joining Kiwanis or any service organization as an alternative to hoping governments will somehow fill the needs of our community’s life. For more information email and visit our Facebook page at “The highest of distinctions is service to others” King George IV (1762 – 1830).

    Thank you,

    Dennis Margueratt, President Kiwanis Club of Picton

  2. Mike Barnes says:

    On a Municipal level, what can we, as a community do to prevent childhood hunger on our own community? Given the arable land in The County, given the farmers, given our skills. What can a municipality do locally to ensure no child goes hungry? I can think of some things that don’t require keys on a keyboard, but hands in the soil, let’s get that conversation going around the horseshoe…

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