Continuous Access to Healthy Food

Students across Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, Lanark Country, Hastings, and Prince Edward Counties have been able to continue to acc...
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.
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You may know on April 16th, the Federal Government confirmed plans to support student nutrition programs. Specifically, the budget has announced the creation of a National School Food Program, which will provide $1 billion over five years to Employment and Social Development Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, and Indigenous Services Canada, starting in 2024‑25.

You may wonder what does this government funding mean specific to the need and our efforts to fundraise?

Without a doubt, we continue to need your support. While many student nutrition program leaders are encouraged by the incremental government support, many have taken to the news and social media to confirm even with this support, funding gaps will persist.

The Grocery Foundation's Vision, that no Canadian child goes to school hungry, remains fully intact. Our work continues and remains vital to support hungry children through their school’s student nutrition program. There is no change whatsoever in our focus, our mission, or our reliance on your support.

The programs we help fund are universal in nature. That means all children who require a healthy meal have access. Those on the front lines of these programs affirm their positive impact and positive halo beyond the day’s nutrition, from attendance, behaviours to the school community and mental health. The programs you help fund also support foundational nutrition knowledge and social skill building, as many programs include mechanisms for student involvement in menu planning, food preparation and serving of food to peers.

Thank you for choosing to support hungry children in your community, nourishing their health, well-being, academic success while fostering their school community. With your continued support, we will continue to help dreams take flight and nourish over 3,000 programs and neighbourhoods, yours among them.