Families in the Limestone District School Board received much needed food boxes and grocery cards thanks to a new partnership between The Food Sharing Project and various community partners.Following the COVID-19 school closure announcement in mid-March, area food providers quickly mobilized to amend their services to ensure students who rely on school nutrition programs and other food programs were able to continue.
Typically, The Food Sharing Project delivers six tonnes of food to 88 schools across our school district every week of the school year. This program offers healthy snacks and meals to any student who needs nourishment regardless of financial need, in a stigma-free environment. The Isthmus Program takes up where Food Sharing leaves off by providing food supplies to families over the weekend in five elementary schools (four in LDSB and one in Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board) in food insecure neighbourhoods.
While both organizations were eager to continue providing food to families in need, the anonymous nature of the programs meant they had no identifying information on which to rely. That’s where our schools set to work identifying families who would benefit from this support and obtaining permission to allow contactless deliveries right to their doors. While it took a couple of weeks to get organized, food began flowing to families at the end of March. The groups are following KFL&A Public Health safe food handling and physical distancing protocols to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and families.
From April to end of August, The Food Sharing Project delivered 2,750 boxes of healthy food bi-weekly, to around 380 families, and gift cards to another 210 families bi-weekly in the spring, and monthly in the summer.
“The support that The Food Sharing Project and Isthmus provide to our school throughout the school year is invaluable, but their importance through this pandemic is vital,” says Alison Fraser, Principal of Molly Brant Elementary School. “For students, receiving the type of food that they receive at school brings a certain comfort through familiarity.”
“We realized that we had to figure out a way to get the food to the students and through collaboration with school board staff, and the kindness of individual volunteers and groups like Rotary we have a system that achieves our goal and keeps everyone safe.” says Brenda Moore, Chair of The Food Sharing Project Board of Directors. “The looks on the faces of family members when they open their door to a food box on their doorstep, tells us that we are doing the right thing in this challenging time.”
During the school closure, The Food Sharing Project is also supporting existing food providers, including food banks in Kingston, Napanee, Sydenham and Sharbot Lake, by providing additional food and finances to supplement food boxes with additional items that students would normally have access to through Student Nutrition Programs including increases in dairy, eggs, protein and fresh fruits and vegetables.