Student nutrition programs bring healthy food to hungry minds

PALMERSTON – It was no surprise that on a dreary rainy day, the sun shone brightly just as the Blessings to You Centre volunteers presented a cheque for $10,000 to Bobbi Turner, student nutrition program manager with the Children’s Foundation Food and Friends program, and Wendy Morgan, volunteer for the Minto Clifford Public School morning meal program.

Blessings is a local thrift store located in Palmerston, operated completely by volunteers.

The donation will assist Minto Clifford Public School in providing over 6,665 healthy meals through its Food and Friends student nutrition program each morning. 

“When children are hungry at school, they are not able to focus on their task at hand, but instead their grumbling tummies,” Turner said. 

“By providing them with a healthy meal, we see improvement in their ability to focus and learn in class, a decrease in disruptive classroom behaviours, improved social skills, and an improved awareness of how eating healthy can positively affect their bodies; all of which leads to positive outcomes in school.

“The great thing about our Food and Friends programs is that they’re universally accessible and inclusive of all students; so, if a child, for whatever reason, doesn’t eat breakfast, forgets their lunch, or even just wants to try a new healthy food, the program offers all students the same opportunity to eat together.” 

In 2022 the Children’s Foundation’s Food and Friends program provided over 2,360,000 meals to local students across 107 student nutrition programs.

With rising food costs, the number of children and youth arriving at school hungry continues to grow and nutrition programs are being accessed by more students, officials say.

“Donations like these help the foundation continue to meet the growing need within our communities. The Children’s Foundation is grateful to the Blessings’ volunteers for all the hard work they do to raise awareness and funding for so many meaningful community causes, and for helping them bring healthy food to hungry minds,” program officials state.