Statement from Karla Bernard, Leader of the Third Party, on the King Government Underfunding the School Food Program

Charlottetown, PE - With the holidays just around the corner more and more community groups and non-profits are fundraising to support the critical work they do for Islanders in need. This year the demand for help is at a historic high. The Upper Room Food Bank has seen an almost 30% growth in the number of families who need help putting food on the table this Christmas. This is the shocking new reality on our so-called “Food Island.” Hundreds of families across the province are unable to afford the very basics.

At a time when non-profit groups are asking for generosity and donations from Islanders, it is critical that government do its part. That is why I was shocked when I received an email from the PEI School Food Program, a program that the PCs take every opportunity they can to brag about, looking for donations from parents to fund their important work.

When it was first launched in 2020, the School Food Program was praised by every political party on PEI. Ensuring that every Island student is fed at school is integral to a child’s learning and it’s one way government can address our province’s high childhood food insecurity rates. Unfortunately, like most things with this government, the PCs only want to appear like they care without doing any of the hard work.

In the spring, the School Food Program operators told government and the public that they were struggling with their current funding. Demand is up and the number of Island families who can pay is down. The rising cost of food has also forced the program to make changes to their menu. In light of these challenges, the non-profit requested increased funding from government to continue this incredibly important work. The PC government increased their funding by only half of what they needed. So now they are forced to compete for donations at a time when so many community groups need extra help.

I am calling on the PC government to immediately issue a special warrant to increase the funding to the School Food Program so that no Island student goes hungry. Islanders cannot afford a government who continues to give them “better than nothing.”

This holiday season many Islanders who are able will be stepping up to help out their neighbours. I am asking for government to do the bare minimum and fund a program that they promised, announced, and are proud to take credit for.

Karla Bernard

Leader of the Third Party

MLA Charlottetown-Victoria Park