If it takes a village to raise a child, a town can also come together to help feed kids through the summer month as sometimes kids just need a little bit more.
This is what’s happened in Lindsay this year, where an innovative Summer Outreach Lunch Program pilot, providing healthy bagged lunches to children, was launched.
It was brought to the attention of the Food Security Working Group of Kawartha Lakes Food Coalition that some students in Lindsay get anxious and sad during the summer months about not having enough to eat, especially without school lunch and snack programs in place.
After confirming with school principals that this anxiety did exist among students, in February the working group moved forward with a plan to create a pilot program for areas of Lindsay deemed it needed.
Over the next four months, the Lindsay Salvation Army, Kawartha Lakes Food Source, Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit and Kawartha Lakes Food Coalition partnered to design this lunch program.
Both Salvation Army and Kawartha Lakes Food Source pooled together interested volunteers and put out a joint call for more. In total, 31 volunteers contributed more than 515 hours in training, baking, preparing and distributing the lunches. Organizers were overwhelmed by the energy and desire to help that each and every volunteer had.
From July 4 to Aug. 31 volunteers prepared and distributed lunches Wednesdays and Fridays at four locations: Kawartha Lakes Food Source, Housing Help Centre, St. Mary’s Church and Queen Victoria Public School. On Mondays volunteers baked healthy treats for the week.
“It was very important to us that the lunches were healthy providing optimal nutrition” says Aisha Malik, registered dietitian. The children who ate the lunches were getting all four food groups per meal providing good source of protein, fruit, vegetable and dairy, as well as a healthy baked treat.
Over the course of the summer, 1,384 lunches were made — lower than the expected 1,800 – 2,250 lunches estimated at the beginning of the launch. About 832 were distributed to children at the locations and the remaining lunches were provided to A Place Called Home.
There were many heartwarming stories shared by the distribution volunteers. One volunteer reported that “there were three boys who regularly came to grab a lunch would take the bag, say thank you, and turn and run home. On one occasion, the volunteer heard them saying “we are gonna eat well today!”
The program organizers feel that this is the reason why this pilot was launched, and it met its purpose. Children getting what they need when they needed it.
This outreach program would not have been such a success without the support of the community. A big thank you to the following for their contributions: St. Vincent de Paul, OPP Auxiliary, Community Living, Home Hardware (Kent Street), Kawartha Wholesale Bakery, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (Mary Martha’s Group), the United Way of Kawartha Lakes, Curves/Jenny Craig and the many individuals who donated directly to this program.
The organizers also note with gratitude the 221 women who are part of 100 Women Who Care, for choosing to support this program.
Now the work that was done will be evaluated to see how 2019 can be better.