Local School Nutrition Program Expands To Feed Hundreds During COVID 19

Tuesday April 21st, 2020

Posted at 10:05pm

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With schools closed, the Ontario Student Nutrition Program has changed the way they do things to ensure that vulnerable children and youth still have access to healthy food.

Prior to schools closing mid-March due to the COVID-19 emergency, over 28,000 students in Windsor and Essex County had access to nutritious meals and snacks every day at school. Now, with the current school closures, innovative measures are being put to practice to ensure that food is still available to students in need during this unprecedented time.

Working with the Windsor Essex COVID Care Coalition, OSNP has provided three avenues for accessing food; Grocery Store Gift Cards, Good Food Boxes and Frozen Meal distribution. They have also made some additional resources available that include some food literacy activities and low-cost recipe options. With the support of community partners like the Unemployed Help Centre and United Way Windsor, OSNP has been able to increase access to healthy food for families in need while employing safe and social distancing strategies.

“We’re fielding a lot of calls and emails for additional support. It’s not just instruction time that’s being missed at school, many students rely on school food programs for nourishment. We’re hopeful that the food boxes and gift cards act as a supplement to other resources for our most vulnerable children and families as they weather the impacts of COVID-19, said OSNP Coordinator Danielle Findlay.

Following the initial announcement that students would not return to school after March Break a number of teachers and Principals reached out to OSNP expressing concern for their students that typically access school food programs. The collaborative response to provide food for those families outside of school was a welcomed relief.

“Over the course of the year, many of our students in both elementary and secondary schools participate in our snack and breakfast programs. During this pandemic, we are encouraging our families to reach out to various community food programs to get what they need,” said Sharon Pyke, Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) Superintendent.

To access the helpline, individuals can call (888) 488-1578 Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm.

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