– Partnership Helps Deliver Food Supplies to Students in Need, Even During COVID-19 School Closures –
A group of businesses and volunteers is being celebrated for delivering the goods to ensure students who need food to succeed in school could still get it – even while at home during COVID-19.
The “great news story” took place last spring when Northumberland Food For Thought (NFFT)forged a partnership with Northumberland-based charity, Local Food for Local Good (www.localfoodforlocalgood.ca). With COVID-19 emergency funding from the Breakfast Club of Canada, the local partnership was able to mobilize businesses and volunteers to supply and deliver food to the homes of 320 students in Northumberland County who could no longer access Student Nutrition Programs at school due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
“It’s a great news story thatshows the power of passionate people and partners to overcome adversity and obstacles, even in the midst of a pandemic,” says Beth Kolisnyk, the Community Development Coordinator with NFFT (www.northumberlandfoodforthought.ca), the organization that coordinates Student Nutrition Programs at local schools. “We are thrilled at what was accomplished, especially being able to support school-aged children and their families in need during the COVID-19 school closure.”
Working with local principals, NFFT was able to identify students at 25 local schools who stood to benefit from the food-distribution plan. With direction from NFFT, Local Food for Local Good was then able to move ahead with the initiative.
Normally, children and youth can access food through the Student Nutrition Programs at their schools, so they are not distracted by empty stomachs from learning in the classroom. Last spring, however, when schools had to close due to COVID-19, this whole model was thrown out the window. “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary solutions, and our partnership with Local Food for Local Good certainly delivered that,” Kolisnyk says.
Local Food for Local Good received help from Cobourg grocer, The Market and Smor, to supply more than 430 fresh food boxes for students, while also enlisting Port Hope teaching kitchen/restaurant, Food Inspired, and Campbellford based eatery, Dockside Bistro, to prepare nearly 1,500 mealsfor students and their families. Eleven volunteer drivers then delivered the food, as well as learning/arts kits and activity backpacks, to the homes of these students across Northumberland County.
“The first wave of COVID-19 provided us with an opportunity to mobilize community members to ensure that school aged children and youth did not go without access to fresh, healthy food while schools were closed,” says Nicole Beatty, the Board Chair of Local Food for Local Good. “In partnership with NFFT, we were able to connect with families and fill an essential gap that, if left unaddressed, would have impacted food security for many in our community.”
This fall, with schools back in session, local Student Nutrition Programs are back up and running – albeit with strict COVID-19 precautions in place. For example, ‘buffet-style food’ where students were allowed to select from unpackaged or prepared food is no longer allowed.
Instead, all food must be pre-portioned into individual servings.