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An Appetite for Learning in SD8

School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake) has delivered over 78 food hampers for students and families across seven school communities in the past two months, providing fresh fruit, vegetables, pastas, bread, yoghurt, meat and cheese from spring break through to May thanks to provincial funding from Feeding Futures.

“Through Feeding Futures, the district has been able to substantially increase funds to schools directly related to providing food for vulnerable children and youth this year.  In addition, the BC Fruit and Vegetable Nutrition Program is available for all students throughout the district, through regular deliveries of mostly BC produce.  In schools, children and youth eat nutritious foods that help promote learning and health,” said Assistant Superintendent Deanna Holitzki, who oversees food equity programs including Feeding Futures through the district’s Inclusive Education department.  

In the fall of 2023, SD8 received $644,263 in funding through the Government of British Columbia’s Feeding Futures funds. The funding helps provide vulnerable children and youth access to healthy meals and snacks at school and invests in building and expanding local school food programs including kitchen facilities, food delivery infrastructure, and staffing for an overall food program coordinator.  

SD8’s Feeding Futures funding provides schools with funds to provide breakfast, snack and lunch items. This may include pastas, bread, yogurt, meat and meat alternatives, cheese and other proteins. As well, the BC Fruit and Vegetable Nutrition Program (BCFVNP) is provided throughout the district. The BCFVNP provides bi-weekly fruit, vegetables, and in some cases, milk or milk alternatives, cheese, eggs, and yogurt.  

Many schools have partnered with their Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) to provide a wide range of food options that are either made and served by parent volunteers or purchased from restaurants or caterers and served in schools. Also, many schools have garnered additional funds through a variety of grants such as the Breakfast for Learning program, Toonies for Tummies, the Vancouver Sun Foundation, the Gleaners Society (Creston), and other generous supporters.  

“Thanks to local businesses we have been able to deliver healthier, more robust meal offerings to schools with an emphasis on fresh fruit and vegetables, proteins and whole grains. Save-on-Foods is enthusiastic about partnering with the district to deliver food to schools and extended their delivery range to include many of our rural schools. They are grateful that this support exists in the community and is a key player in our ability to expand our programming” said Kelly McCafferty, SD8 Food Programs and Feeding Futures Advisor.  

SD8 has a wide variety of community partnerships in which local businesses and organizations help the district deliver food programs or provide additional foods or services to augment those programs. Current partners and pilot programs in addition to restaurants and caterers that have partnered with school PACs involve Save-on-Foods, Sysco Canada, Fields-Forward, and Ariah’s Edibles.  

“Feeding children combines the knowledge and skills of school staff, families, and communities, so no program is going to look exactly the same. We want to honour community values and goals,” said McCafferty.  

Educators and other school support staff who see students every day can recommend children for extra support and initiate a supply of food without the student or their family having to come forward on their own, thereby reducing the stigma that often exists for families struggling to afford food.  

“We were able to distribute around 58 hampers over the spring break across seven schools and continue to provide additional hampers when school is in session, as well as lunch, breakfast, and snack programs throughout the school day” said McCafferty.  

All schools in the district have funding from Feeding Futures, and schools have implemented various procedures that meet the needs of students and follow the parameters of the Feeding Futures funding.  

“Our goal as an SD8 team of district staff, principals, school staff, parent volunteers and community organizations is to offer nutritious food options to students, to increase the quantity of foods delivered to schools with the funding we receive, and to work together to help children and youth in school have sufficient food to eat at school every day so they can focus on their learning,” said Holitzki.  

SD8 is also investing $137,900 through its Food Infrastructure Program in 2024-2025 to upgrade school kitchens and equipment at Kootenay River Secondary in Creston, J.V. Humphries Secondary in Kalso, at Redfish Elementary on the North Shore near Nelson, and at Salmo Elementary School in Salmo. All projects are approved under the Capital Budget Bylaw 2024-2025 adopted by the Board of Education on April 12 of this year, and projects will be completed by March 2025 at the latest.  

 

 

 

 

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A blue Tesla front trunk full of loaves of whole wheat bread