Students across Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, Lanark Country, Hastings, and Prince Edward Counties have been able to continue to access healthy food despite Covid-19-related school closures thanks to local partners supporting Food for Thought and Food for Learning and the Food Sharing Project.
These three organizations, focused on providing student nutrition during the school year, are part of the Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation, the Student Nutrition Lead Agency for South Eastern Ontario. Following social distancing protocols, staff and volunteers across these organizations are providing food baskets and gift cards to thousands of local students who could otherwise attend local programs where they access healthy breakfasts and mid-morning meals.
Close to $310,000 in donations including grocery gift cards, vouchers and coupons donated by various partners have made their way to students providing them sufficient funds for a healthy breakfast and snack for 20 school days — which would be the same as if they programs were to continue.
“Local school boards, food banks, health units, Rotary Clubs and our program had to move quickly for many students in need,” says Kellie Brace Student Nutrition Program Coordinator, for the region.
Like so many across the province, once Covid-19 hit, Principals and local school board administrative and staff teams were quick to connect students to support. Over the past weeks school staff have been making regular calls checking in on their welfare.
Besides student-specific supports, close to 1,500 families across the regions have received support, in the form of gift cards and food baskets which are being delivered curbside. A single parent of three primary school-aged children is among the recent recipients of one of these special deliveries.
“Current restrictions on large gatherings affects their job, preventing them from returning to work. The gift cards and access to the community Food to Share program is helping them manage anxiety when they can’t feed their children,” says a local principal with the Hastings Prince Edward School Board.
Student nutrition program leads admit they worry about the need for support among students and families with the upcoming summer months on the horizon and over the long-term. Some relief comes knowing that when school resumes, The Grocery Foundation will resume funding to local school nutrition programs including direction donations made by shoppers at local grocery stores during the recent Toonies for Tummies campaign.
For more information, please visit: