Friday, September 21, 2012

Kelly-Sue Labus - Valuing Humanity in Waterloo Region

PHOTO CREDIT: Kelly-Sue's LinkedIn profile,

Kelly-Sue Labus has an important message for all of us: Charity starts at home.

We all tear up during the commercials of starving children in Africa. We all want to help victims of tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes. I agree, it's very important to think as global citizens and work on making a healthier world around us.


It's hard to help children thousands of miles away when one of your child's classmates is hungry. It's hard to donate blankets for an overseas missions trip when there's a guy sleeping in the vestibule of a bank downtown.

Kelly-Sue had some staggering numbers to share:

There are 120,000 children in Waterloo Region. 13,000 go hungry every day. Even more live in poverty.

5.7 MILLION Canadians make less than $14,000/year (the poverty line is $18,421 for 1 person).

And to add a few of my own:

9.6 MILLION Canadians used a Food Bank in 2011.

38% or greater than 2.6 million of those people were children/youth under the age of 18. **

That's a lot of hungry kids.

Kelly-Sue is the Executive Director of Nutrition for Learning in Waterloo Region. She sees hungry kids and she knows the effect that hunger can have on children. Nutrition for Learning has 134 local, community based programs providing breakfast and/or lunch to local kids and 1,300 volunteers making those meals happen. They are also operating under a $1,000,000 shortfall.

We need to feed every single hungry child in Canada.

Can you pick which child we don't feed? - Kelly-Sue Labus

She tells we are one of few countries that doesn't have a national student nutrition program. How is this possible? We are home to tech giants. We build BlackBerries and have Steven Hawking visit us on a regular basis. We have residents that pay upwards of $400 to watch a perpetually losing hockey team play. We invented Nanaimo bars, Poutine and basketball. Insulin and the Wonderbra.


Across the Earth, people need help. I'm not saying we shouldn't help them. But if we can't keep our own children healthy how can we expect to save the ones in Africa?

*This is part 9 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

** 46% of food bank recipients in Waterloo Region are children/youth.

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