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Island MPs and NDP boss challenge Libs to create national school food program

Heavy-hitters from the federal NDP were on the Island Wednesday, pushing the federal government to help feed struggling Island families.

Party leader Jagmeet Singh, along with Island MPs Rachel Blaney (North Island – Powell River) and Gord Johns (Courtenay-Alberni), visited Courtenay’s LUSH Valley to talk about families struggling with rising food costs. Singh says the Liberal government has failed to deliver on a promised school food program.

“In this upcoming budget, one of our specific demands is that the federal government finally commit to a national school lunch program. We want to make this happen across the country,” he said.

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns says without a national program, community groups like LUSH have picked up the slack.

“I know I speak for many people when I say that we’re grateful for this work,” he said. “But it’s crucial to point out that it should not fall to organizations like LUSH Valley to do this work without support from all levels of government.”

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Executive Director of LUSH Maurita Prato says the entire non-profit sector is struggling to maintain programs because in the current economy fewer people are making charitable donations. She says for LUSH to maintain its programs, it will need more access to government funding and grant programs.

LUSH partners with 25 local farms in the Comox Valley and 30 community groups to provide school food boxes to needy kids and families. The organization also educates people about cooking, and helps with school gardens and community kitchens.

— With files from Justin Waddell

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