Food For Kids COVID-19 Response
Since schools first shut their doors in March 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19, our community has come together in a big way to support children, through constantly changing circumstances. With your support, from March 2020–July 2021 we were able to get over 265,000 food cards out to children and youth, via our Food for Kids initiative. What this meant was that approximately 7.9 million meals were provided to students when they couldn’t access their schools’ Student Nutrition Programs (SNPs).
When schools reopened in September 2021, we focussed our efforts on supporting SNPs to ensure children had access to nourishing food, in-school, every day. After the winter break, schools were again closed, and children needed our support. Working directly with school Principals, we pivoted our efforts to supporting as many students as we could through our Food for Kids initiative. Though funds were limited, we worked with schools to get $50 food cards out to children and youth who would normally be able to access nutrition through their school-based SNPs. Schools are now open and we are once again focussed on supporting school-based SNPs.
If you would like to help us support children, click here to donate.
2019/20 School Year
School closing in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant the closure of SNPs, which many, many students rely on. To help fill this gap, we worked quickly to find a way to get food out to children and youth who needed it, in the safest and fastest way possible.
Working closely with the school boards and volunteers from KPMG, a process was developed to get food cards out to students. Through our Food for Kids initiative, each child received a $50 food card, which is the approximate cost of breakfast for 30 days. The food cards not only served a basic need – providing nutritious breakfasts – but they also allowed some families to purchase culturally relevant food, in an autonomous and dignified way. In the last three months of the 2020 school year we mailed out more than 100,000 food cards, representing approximately 3,000,000 meals.
2020/21 School Year
When schools opened their doors for the 2020/21 academic year, we refocussed our efforts on supporting in-school SNPs. Due to COVID-19 safety requirements, the cost to deliver meals within SNPs increased significantly. Parents also faced continued economic hardship, so local school-based fundraising diminished, and our support was needed more than ever.
Though schools were open, some SNPs were unable to operate, and so, we looked for a way to support them. As well, high school students were only able to attend school for 5 half days every two weeks, and had much less access to their SNPs. In response, we piloted our Nutrition Pantry (NP) program. We created a Central Pantry which we stocked with shelf stable foods that, with the help of TDSB Logistics Services and our grocery partners, we delivered out directly to schools. High schools set up their own Nutrition Pantries where students were able to choose a week’s worth of lunch food to take home – things like tuna, soup, canned fruit and cereal. For the elementary schools that couldn’t open their regular program, nutritious, individually portioned snacks, like granola bars and applesauce, were delivered so that children could access food.
Although our funds were limited, we also supported thousands of students learning from home, through our Food for Kids initiative. Since September 2020, over 72,000 food cards have been distributed to students learning from home, representing over 2,160,000 meals. As well, during extended school closures in 2021, we distributed over 86,000 food cards to support students who would normally be able to access their schools’ SNPs. This represents over 2,580,000 meals.
Throughout the school year, our beyond 3:30 program continued to operate, either in-person or virtually. For more information on beyond 3:30, click here.
Our Emergency Fund saw a significant increase in requests for help and continued to support students throughout the pandemic. For more information on the Emergency Fund, click here.
Kids still need help, and so we are focussed on supporting them. If you would like to help us during this time of crisis, please donate here.
“We have received the cards from Food for Kids program for our two kids. I’d deeply like to thank you. I also would like to ask you to keep my name and e-mail address as I truly intend to give back to this program when we have the conditions to do so.”
”Thank you for allowing our son to participate in the Nutrition Pantry at school. This is a big help for him. My husband is off of work due to health problems, and my job has cut down my hours because of COVID and this kind of help from school is helping us sustain our child’s needs.” – Parent
“I’m a mom of three growing boys, ages, 14, 10 and 7. I want to say thank you for providing my family with food cards through your Food for Kids Program. It was a very welcome help to our dwindling budget.”
“I just wanted to thank you so much for the assistance in this very difficult time! We are going to use the cards to buy as much protein as we can (we have been eating a lot of pasta). Thank you!”
“Thanks for reaching out to the families in the communities. This is amazing! And it’s also a great private way to provide meals for people that are in need. Sometimes people need help but they are embarrassed to physically go to a food bank to say they need help, and even when they do, it is hard to find protein.”