Panel looks at child poverty

Panel memebers discussed child poverty in the Campbell River and Comox Valley region.

When Gail Nasadyk learned that child poverty in B.C. is the highest in the country, she decided to take action.

She’s president of the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) in the Comox Valley, which has been supporting local women for over 25 years by providing bursaries for post-secondary education.

On Oct. 16, World Food Day, Gail chaired a panel discussion to help club members learn more about child poverty in the Campbell River and Comox Valley region. The meeting began with a ‘poverty lunch’, simple fare that helped participants to think about children living in poverty.

Vicki Luckman, manager of the Courtenay Community Programs at the John Howard Society of North Island, encouraged participants to get involved by making individual donations and volunteering their services.

“Gratitude for what I have opens me to others,” Vicki said as she described the types of local initiatives that already exist to address child poverty such as the KidStart Mentoring Program that pairs a child with an adult mentor.

Arzeena Hamir, a professional agrologist who specializes in organic food production, told CFUW members that they should share their expertise and knowledge with young people.

“We need to pass on some of the traditional skills that are being lost, things like making soup, knitting and gardening. I can see it now, an evening in which all of the members of the Club are canning fruits and vegetables at LUSH Valley!”

LUSH Valley is a charitable, non-profit organization that focuses on food security. One of their projects is the Fruit Tree Program in which volunteers pick fruit, berries or nuts and leave one-third of the harvest for the homeowner with the rest divided between the pickers and agencies, such as the food bank.

“Start close to home and reach out to people,” Judy Brooks, a director with Dawn to Dawn – Action on Homelessness in the Comox Valley, told participants. “You’ll find lots of services and programs but sometimes it’s the simple things that get in the way, things like not having transportation to get to an event or a group.” Nasadyk concluded the meeting by challenging the members of the CFUW Comox Valley to take action on child poverty in the region. “Let us do something together to make a difference in the lives of others.”

— Canadian Federation of University Women

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