Mayor Tory serves up free-breakfast initiative

Mayor John Tory and city officials address media at Thorncliffe Public School.
Mayor John Tory and city officials address media at Thorncliffe Public School.

The program director at the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office applauds Mayor John Tory’s initiative to provide free breakfasts to Toronto-area grade school students, but believes the program doesn’t go far enough.

In 2014 the Government of Ontario released a poverty reduction strategy; it included $10 million made available between 2014 and 2019 to reduce poverty in Ontario communities. On Monday, Mayor Tory announced the allotment of $500,000 (of that $10 million) to offer breakfasts to communities in need. Mohan Doss, the program director of Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, appreciates the initiative, but has some criticism.

“What about youth between 19 and 28, who are not in high school, who will not have access to free-breakfast programs?” Doss said.

The breakfast plan delivers free food and milk to children (Kindergarten to Grade 6) each morning in schools where the community is in need.

Coun. Jon Burnside (Ward 26, Don Valley West) hopes the free-breakfast program is just the beginning of upper level government support..

“(The) $500,000 a year … it’s quite a substantial amount of money,” Burnside said. “(But) we are hoping to get federal help as well for these particular programs.”

The mayor used Monday’s announcement to remind those present that in addition to the free-breakfast programs for public schools, the city continues to offer free rides on public transit for youths 12 and under.

“I am proud of the initiatives we are putting forward by way of anti-poverty measures,” Tory said.

According to Coun. Burnside, councillors representing areas of Toronto facing poverty issues will reach out to other community members and business to further support the free-breakfast program.

“I have already been talking to business owners and community leaders to hold a fundraiser in the spring to invest in the program,” Burnside said, “because (with) private donations … the more money we can raise the better we can make it for everyone.”

Mayor Tory said at the announcement that the Ontario government will fund an extra $5-$6 million in new money on top of other anti-poverty measures in the city’s $10 billion budget.

Following the announcement, Tory served eggs and toast to students at Thorncliffe Public School, and indicated that the 2016 budget had been approved.