By Jenn Watt
With as little as one hour each week volunteers can help ensure children in Haliburton County start their day with full stomachs through the Food for Kids program.
Throughout the school year the program operates five days a week to provide an accessible non-stigmatized breakfast to students in elementary and secondary schools.
Last week Aaron Walker the co-ordinator of the program spoke to the Haliburton Legion’s Ladies Auxiliary about what Food for Kids provides and how money is spent. The auxiliary gave the program a $1000 donation.
Walker said it costs about $80000 a year to feed the kids of the county in the breakfast program. There are no salaried workers and next to no administration costs. Co-ordinators at each school receive a small honorarium which assists with their fuel costs as they pick up the food to serve the students.
Base funding is about $25000 to $30000 a year; the rest comes in through donations and grants.
Haliburton County offers what Walker called a “high end nutrition program” meaning they ensure there is fresh fruit grains and dairy presented in an appetizing way to students.
Research has shown that students who have eaten a healthful breakfast perform better academically and behaviourally.
In the short-term that’s positive for the functioning of the student and the rest of his or her class. In the long-term the program teaches healthy eating habits and introduces students to new foods.
“It actually has a lifelong effect” Walker said.
The schools in Highlands East – Cardiff Elementary School and Wilberforce Elementary School – as well as Haliburton Highlands Secondary School are most in need of volunteers. Those who give their time can expect to come in from 8 to 9 a.m. one day a week. Volunteering more is welcome but not necessary.
To volunteer either contact the school you’re interested in joining or go to www.foodforkids.ca to contact Aaron Walker.