School district 52 staff prepare weekly food bags and grocery deliveries in the Bags of Goodness Meal Program on April 24. More than 600 bags of quality food are delivered each week to families of students vulnerable to hunger while learning at home during COVID-19. Standing a good social distance apart are Lenora Santurbano, Lorraine Zuzarte, Genevieve Law, Andree Michaud and Jennifer Pottle. (Photo: supplied by C. Franes)

Bags of Goodness prepared by SD52 to fill a void and a tummy

Province announces no child should go hungry

More than 600 Bags of Goodness have been delivered to 215 families in Prince Rupert’s School District 52 to assist students with healthy eating, while they are studying at home, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nutritious food is provided by the school’s meal programs and delivered direct to the doors of students.

School District 52 families are receiving weekly breakfast and lunch food so students can continue to learn at home with full tummies, Christine Franes, district principal of learning services for SD 52 said. More than 300 students are fed lunches in Prince Rupert on a daily basis when school is in session.

Each family, depending on size, has received three or four bags of groceries each delivery day to assist with learning-at-home-hunger-relief. Some weeks grocery store cards may be received.

“No student should ever have to go without food, whether they’re learning in class or at home,” Rob Flemming, Minister of Education said.

READ MORE: Breakfast Club of Canada launches the day right

“Despite the challenging time we’re living in, school district staff have partnered with local non profits and businesses in a community effort to ensure kids and their families are getting the nutritious food they need, no matter where they live or learn,” Flemming said.

On the initial run of the Bags of Goodness, nutritional items such as fruit, bread, eggs, yogurt, milk, cereal, peanut butter, jam and carrots, were delivered to the homes of students, Franes said. Other food from the four food groups will be added so food can be rotated for variety.

The Bags of Goodness are being welcomed with opened arms to fill those little open mouths. There have been tears of gratitude during the food deliveries, Franes said, with food security for the school district families is important and worthwhile.

“Our plan is to continue providing our bags of goodness for the duration of the school year,” Franes said.

By supplying good quality items that will benefit each student, groceries to each family is a far more costly endeavor, than the provision of daily meals at the schools.

“We are putting out requests for more funds, because this is a very expensive way to do a meal program. We are filling in some grants and asking for additional funds to enrich the bags of goodness,” Franes said.

Prince Rupert Port Authority has committed assistance to this endeavor by utilizing one of their cargo vehicles to pick up groceries from Safeway, to deliver to the meal program kitchen, on a weekly basis. In the past few weeks, the Port has also assisted in delivering the goodness bags to homes of the students and is sponsor of funding to the Breakfast Club.

“The Port Authority has been a part of that with us. They’ve been really great, they’ve been staying connected to the meal program, just offering help, in any way that they can. They gave us some manpower… They were helpers for sure,” Franes said.

READ MORE: Learning at all times of the day during COVID-19

“The commitment of School District 52 staff and other community volunteers to ensuring there is as little disruption as possible in the delivery of nutritious food to those in need has been inspiring. PRPA is grateful that our contribution continues to make a difference to local children and their families,” PRPA said.

“So many people are stepping up to make sure students are getting nutritious meals at home,” Flemming said. “This important work is giving vulnerable families throughout the province the support they need to help their children thrive away from the traditional classroom setting.”

“Delivering the bags, it continues our connection with the families, during these times, which is invaluable. We know that kids are happy to see someone from the school district,” Franes said.

“Delivering these bags of goodness just means that families don’t need to go to the grocery stores, don’t need to ride the bus…It’s just one way we’re trying to help and make things easier for our families.”

K-J Millar | Journalist
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