Schools in Huntsville are now part of the newly established Food4Kid program in Muskoka.
A teacher for 10 years, including five with various schools in Muskoka, Sarah Thatcher felt too many kids were dealing with food insecurity and decided to do something about it.
The program started in 2012 in Halton, Ont. and has since grown to include five other chapters. “They know the best way to source food for kids and their processes are really seamless,” says Thatcher.
She explains Food4Kids will work with the principals, teachers, and parents to discreetly deliver the food every Friday. Each bag will have 12 to 15 items of food, including five or six pieces of fruit, vegetables, proteins, grains, milk, and healthy snacks.
For now, she says the registered charity will work with Huntsville Public School, Pine Glen Public School, and Spruce Glen Public School, however, if they get more sustainable funding, they will expand. Thatcher says they have already had requests come in from schools in Bracebridge and Gravenhurst.
Thatcher asked Lake of Bays council during its Sept. 12 meeting to contribute $10,000 to the program. However, while Mayor Terry Glober acknowledged the importance of the program, council ended up directing staff to bring the matter back when they’re discussing the township’s 2024 budget.
He thanked Thatcher for “opening up our eyes” to the issue of food insecurity.
Thatcher says the issue of food insecurity was difficult to spot prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Post COVID we have really seen the impacts of food insecurity and the rising cost of housing and food and gas really impacting families in a negative way,” she continues.
“I hope this is an opportunity where we can begin, we can solve some of these issues,” she says. “We can also really draw awareness to what is happening in our communities and collaborate and figure out a solution for better food security for children.”
Anyone interested in donating to the program can go to the Food4Kids website. Thatcher says they don’t take food donations because they prefer to buy directly from stores so specific needs can be met.
She says they’re also looking for volunteers to help pack food on Wednesdays and deliver to schools on Fridays.
“As the program grows, it brings us closer to our vision of ensuring that no child should ever worry about where their next meal will come from,” says Gayle Kabbash, Executive Director of Food4Kids Ontario.