The following letter/posting is being reprinted in OHPE with permission of the author, Sherrie Tingley, a member of the list. In this posting Sherrie raises concerns about the Canadian Living Foundation Community Partners program and the Breakfast for Learning program (described in OHPE #15.2) The description of the CLF Community Partners program is reprinted below this posting, as well as a couple of resources on Food Security and health inequality.
A. BREAKFAST PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN - A CRITIQUE
From: Sherrie Tingley[SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 1997 10:04 PM
Subject: Looking for Help- feeding children
I am writing to you looking for help on writing a couple things on poverty from the perspective of women living in poverty. Often our voices are rarely heard in the 'expert discourse' on these issues. The issues of Child Feeding Programs and the Federal Provincial Child Benefit are ones that I think need to be addressed.
What has propelled me to this point that I feel we have to attempt to use this electronic space to find our voices, is a number of things, the federal/provincial report on the child benefit based on the
overriding assumption that people on welfare need to be forced to work and the Women from the Canadian Living Foundation stating that the biggest issue facing our country is the need for a national breakfast program. (Not unemployment, not lack of affordable housing, not lack of adequate income, not lack of legal assistance for women to get the child support they are entitled to, not women abuse, NOPE, a breakfast program)
My initial thoughts on the child feeding programs is that it is the ultimate slap in the face for women struggling to provide for their children. It is very sick to be calling for a national program that gives out freebies of sugar pops when we have lost a national housing program and seen rates in Ontario reduced to a point where the majority of children and other family members on welfare have $2.50 a day for all their basic needs (including tooth paste, soap, school fees and food).
Other reasons it is sick include:
*It has no advocacy involved.
*It is not accountable to consumers
*It does almost nothing to address the real health ramifications of poverty that impact both the children in families and the adults
*It is a totally inappropriate response to poverty
*Feeding our children is fundamental to parenting, what happens to us when we are forced to rely on a breakfast program for some of our children?
* The statement that children can not learn if they are hungry is the sickest thing I have ever heard, does that mean we only feed them when they have to go to school? Does that mean if they could learn it would be OK? Does that mean other family members can starve, specifically their mothers?
*In my local Board of Education with 43,000 students school fees and fundraising are the norm. When the welfare cuts were announced, we met with a school principal of the school that served the most children on welfare to ask him to consider the demands on family income they were making by asking for fees and holding WEEKLY pizza days. We told him that many families put fitting into school first and a pizza day for two children would mean that many family went for the week-end without milk. WE got nowhere!
*How these feeding programs work in my community is that the church 'ladies' buy? bake muffins, teachers Identify? needy children and direct them into the feeding program (parents are not told, either
that their children are being fed or that the opportunity for their children to be fed is available due to concerns of fraud) The 'feeding children' must troop off to the school basement in the morning (other
kids laugh) and get their muffin. Charity- isn't it wonderful?
*We have asked time and time again both the board and the community to explain this to us and gotten nowhere, they look at us with horror and say: "You want children to go hungry?" We have asked if the muffins could not be available at a central location for the mothers to pick up, we have asked and asked and asked and we have got nowhere. They even talk about the low rate of fraud in their program!!!!!!
Maybe there are good programs I do not know, and maybe there are programs that include a recognition that housing and income are things that must be addressed again I do not know.
But if we let these people and governments get away with implementing feeding programs instead of providing adequate income to people in need, are we not complacent in the torture of poor people? Are we not saying that women would spend the money we gave them inappropriately?
Feel free to forward to anyone who may be interested in this issue, primarily women on welfare.
Barrie Action Committee for Women
C. HEALTH INEQUITIES DISCUSSION PAPER
[from CLICK4HP Discussion List September 19, 1997]
What Should Public Health's Response Be to Health Inequalities?
The text of a discussion paper is available at:
Comments would be appreciated.
For the five page paper contact:
Dennis Raphael, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Acting Director,
Masters of Health Science Program in Health Promotion
Department of Public Health Sciences
Graduate Department of Community Health
University of Toronto
McMurrich Building, Room 101
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA M5S 1A8
voice: (416) 978-7567 fax: (416) 978-2087