The Child Nutrition Network looks a little different while schools are closed.
The program, which is usually offered in classrooms and cafeterias across Haldimand and Norfolk, is now being served from area food banks.
“When the declaration of the state of emergency was made we went to our funders and said, ‘We have this amount of money that we would like to put to some good use, and now students need it more than ever,’” said Tyler Arsenault, regional supervisor of the program. “Everybody was on board with that.”
When families are going to pick up food from the food banks, they will just need to provide the number of school-aged kids in the household to give the funders a better understanding of how many people in the community are accessing the program.
“Our funders at the moment are offering a lot more than they normally would during a regular school year, which is important because most people would make the assumption that with no school the Student Nutrition Program is being put on hold when in fact we’ve never worked so hard in our lives,” said Arsenault. “There’s such a need right now, and food banks are asking for more food, more money, and our funders are getting that message as well.”
The distribution amount to each food bank was decided based on the needs of schools in a certain proximity to specific banks.
The program also provides breakfast to students that would otherwise go without. Through the 2018-2019 school year, nearly 800,000 meals were served across 50 Haldimand and Norfolk schools. There are almost 7,000 students that participate in the program throughout the two counties.
The Salvation Army in Simcoe is one of the 12 food banks helping redistribute the food from the program.
“Because we’re open Monday to Friday, people are calling and we’re booking times for them to come and pick up the food.” Terri Simmons, community and family services manager at the Simcoe Salvation Army. “If someone does not have transportation we are willing to deliver but if they do have a way to get here or someone that can come pick it up that is best.”
Each of the food banks is distributing the food in a slightly different way, but will be asking for the number of children in the household to help keep track of the program’s numbers.
Anyone looking to donate to the program can visit the Haldimand Norfolk Reach website and click the donate button. When donating, put the name of the program in the notes and 100 per cent of the money donated will go directly into the Child Nutrition Network.
The food banks in Haldimand and Norfolk counties where people can currently access this program are:
- Caledonia and District Food Bank
- Cayuga Food Bank
- Delhi Sharing Pantry
- Hagersville Food Bank
- Jarvis Caring Cupboard
- Port Dover and Area Lifeline Food Bank
- Salvation Army, Dunnville
- Salvation Army, Simcoe
- Simcoe Caring Cupboard
- St. Vincent De Paul Emergency Food Bank serving Simcoe/Waterford
- St. Vincent De Paul Emergency Food Bank serving Delhi
- Waterford and District Food Cupboard.