39Reasons: Reason#18 Hunger

This story is among the #39Reasons I am running as a Trustee for Vancouver School Board (VSB). Each story is based on my experience working at the VSB for over 7 years with CUPE and PASA.

I could see his sharp nose buried in a hoodie two sizes too big for him

You couldn’t tell he had the frame of a skeleton under those baggie clothes and maybe that was the point

I noticed him pacing slowly along the hallways, gracing the wall with his fingers as he walked, he did well to look like he was waiting

I asked him his name – “Dale” I asked him if he wanted to join our after-school group in a room nearby, he shook his head no, I reminded him that the door is always open if he changes his mind

Weeks passed and he was there again, 3:10pm, 4:00pm, 5:25pm, and at 6:10pm I was packing up and about to leave, Dale was still there

I had a juice box left and offered it to him, he grabbed it without hesitation and inhaled the ruby red contents with intention until the box folded in on itself  between his frail grasp

I just stood with awe as this second went by

I asked him, “What are you waiting for?” he said, “nothing” and then asked me for a quarter

I had one from a game we had earlier, so I offered it to him, curious to see what this inquiry was about, he thanked me

He walked away, down the hall and with a few additional quarters he pushed the numbers of the vending machine selecting a nutrition bar

I ask him if he was going to go home soon to eat dinner, he replied “no” and began to explain, “my mom’s boyfriend is my new step dad, he’s always home and there’s never any food in the house when I’m there he yells at me, I think he hates me.”

I understood why he was staying around school as long as possible every day

His support worker was informed and offered him food and found out we always had snacks afterschool and that he could get a lunch card to help him with meals during the week

His worker was able to connect with his mom and share information with her about food programs in the city

Schools are an important place for young people to be. When we find opportunities to learn more, ask questions, and work together, the outcomes for students like Dale can be better. Lunch programs are not available to all students, imagine how many Dales are hanging around hungry during and after class and imagine the kind of support we can offer when we know more. 

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