More Than Just a Meal
Nicolas is a Grade 3 student who thoroughly enjoys E4C’s School Lunch Program. It’s usually his first substantial meal for the day, since he often doesn’t have breakfast before he heads off to school. When asked why he misses breakfast, he describes, “we don’t have a lot of dollars around home, we have cents.”
In 2011, 39,000 children under age 18 lived in low-income households in Edmonton (Edmonton Vital Signs 2013: Food Security). E4C’s School Lunch Program began twenty years ago in November 1993 by a group of concerned parents and the Child Poverty Action Group. It operated out of two elementary schools and involved 300 students. The program now runs in ten schools, both Public and Catholic, feeding 2,200 children from Kindergarten to Grade 6.
Twenty-two School Lunch Attendants (affectionately referred to as the Lunch Ladies by the children) operate the program at each school and distribute the meals. A monthly menu is created and sent home to the parents. “It helps some of the parents understand what is comprised in a nutritional meal”, points out Marie, a School Lunch Attendant who has worked with E4C’s School Lunch Program for the last 15 years.
The immediate effects of the program can be felt in the classroom. Larysa, a teacher at St. Francis of Assisi School, describes, “They return to the classroom with their bellies full and the energy to learn.” Student behavior is positively influenced, such as attendance, morale and concentration. Kathy Dekker has been the Principal at of St. Francis of Assisi School for 6 years. She reiterates, “The success of the children at our school is dependent on having the School Lunch Program at this school. Parents will register here because of this program.”
According to Kathy, it is more than just a meal that is provided. “For some of our children, this is the only time they sit down and eat like a family. They learn how to have conversations and that eating is a social event.” The school also has a Leader-In-Me program, in which older students help out in the lunchroom and assist younger students with eating their meals.
The immediate impact of E4C’s School Lunch Program is the satisfaction of a balanced meal, but over the long-term the program improves food security and strengthens coping skills. Kathy states, “It’s essential that Edmontonians support this program, because support in elementary is what is going to make successful adults.
Make a difference with a meal
The cost of a lunch is approximately $4 per student. The families are asked to contribute $30 per month or any amount that they can afford. The remainder is made up of contract government funding, foundation grants and donations from generous community members. Donations from community members are essential to sustain the program, as they make up approximately a third of the annual budget.
Donations have a real impact, for example:
- $80 provides one child with meals for the month
- $750 provides one child with a full year of meals
- $3,600 provides 5 children with a full year of meals
Or, there are many alternative and creative ways to donate to this program, such as:
- Celebrate your special occasion, such as a birthday, retirement party or wedding, by accepting donations
- Make a donation in lieu of purchasing company Christmas cards
- Donate a portion of your product sales to the program
Connect with us to get involved today: