Children who have a healthy school lunch everyday can perform better socially and academically.
The Salvation Army Bethany Hope Centre offers families options for healthy school lunches through the Nourish Lunchbox program for daycare and school aged children.
The Nourish Lunchbox program began in 2016 and is part of the Bethany Hope Centre Nourish Family Food Centre, which is creating change throughout The Salvation Army in moving from a charity model into a progressive model of poverty reduction.
The Bethany Hope Centre provided 3281 school lunches from September to June 2018 and served an average of 10 to 12 families a week.
Canada is the only G8 country without a National Lunch Program, which is why Lunchbox programs like these are so important to the community.
The Nourish Lunchbox program provides each child with 5 days-worth of fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy.
“Our goal is to make the food we offer lunchbox ready. We create individual size portions so parents and children can grab the items quickly in the morning,” said Crystal Gallant, Nourish Family Food Centre Coordinator. “We also try to provide a variety of fruits and vegetables so children are being exposed to new and healthy food options.”
Each family is also given a bag of milk per child and a loaf of bread, pitas or flatbreads.
“With our Nourish model we not only provide families with food but we introduce an education component so participants are empowered to make healthy food at home,” said Crystal.
The Bethany Hope Centre also offers a Nourish Make and Take program where participants learn cooking skills and are able to take home the food they have created.
“Throughout the school year our staff try to focus a bit more on recipes related to school lunches during Make and Take like wraps, healthy dips, baked muffins or homemade granola bars,” said Crystal.
The Nourish Lunchbox program has helped families make ends meet through the school year.
“The Nourish Lunchbox program helped me so much. My child loves veggies! Having the extra food helps me save money for school trips and after school programs,” said one of the participants.
The Bethany Hope Centre is looking for donations of thermoses, zip lock bags, lunch bags, ice packs and small containers for snacks and dips.
A donation of 10 dollars would provide healthy school lunches for a child for one week, 40 dollars would provide a months-worth of lunches and 400 dollars would provide a year’s worth. For more information or to make a donation please contact The Bethany Hope Centre at 613-725-1733 x. 202.