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Empty cupboards

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Repulse Bay (Nov 02/05) - Staff at Tusarvik school in Repulse Bay are struggling to keep their breakfast program alive after hamlet council decided it could no longer afford to help fund the program.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Nicole Kringayark and Darrick Kaunak are among the many students who volunteer their time to help out with the breakfast program at Tusarvik school in Repulse Bay. - photo courtesy of Leonie Aissaoui

Money had previously been available through the Brighter Futures community initiatives programming. Principal Leonie Aissaoui said the hamlet has helped fund the program for the past 10 years.

She said she was disappointed when she heard the news and immediately started looking to other sources for program funding.

"We were told our request was denied because council has less money to work with this year," said Aissaoui.

"I started writing proposals to other sources right away because the program is far too important to our students to let it end."

It has cost Tusarvik about $34,000 annually to run the breakfast program.

To date, Aissaoui has managed to secure $8,000 from the Food First Foundation of the NWT, which may keep the program going for two more months.

In order to make the money last as long as possible, the school has ended its daily snack program for the students and is only serving breakfast between 8:15 a.m. to 9 a.m. on school days.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed Cpl. Mike Itwaru of the local detachment of the RCMP may be able to access some funding through an RCMP program.

"He's writing a proposal to try and help us out.

"In the meantime, we'll keep feeding the kids in the morning until we don't have money to do it any more."

Tusarvik school has 260 pupils registered this year and, on average, about one-third of them show up every morning for breakfast.

Aissaoui said leftover juice and oatmeal from last year's program have helped, but if additional funding isn't found soon many students will be starting their day on an empty stomach.

"The cost of food is high here, even with the 10 per cent discount the stores give us when we're buying for the school, so $8,000 isn't going to last long.

"Our students still help run the program every morning, with staff members taking turns supervising.

"Starting the day with a healthy meal is a key factor in a student's energy level and learning ability.

"We hope there's some agency that can step forward and help us keep our program going at Tusarvik."