Due to COVID-19, children around the world are staying at home, connecting to their teachers and classmates by video conferencing and struggling to keep up with their studies under the guidance of their parents. This is not easy for kids or their parents. For some, the struggle is compounded by the fact that they live in food-insecure families. For sixty students in Okotoks served by the Okotoks United Church School Lunch Program, this was a problem. How to get the lunches to the kids when there was no school? And how to make lunches in a safe way for both students and volunteers?
With the help of the Foothills School Division (FSD), the neediest families were identified. The program then changed gears from daily lunches to weekly grocery bags filled with healthy lunch supplies – enough for five days. A small group of volunteers working at a safe distance, one day a week, packing the bags. These were delivered to the schools where the families picked them up. Each week the number of families varied and the volunteers adjusted their orders.
“In a time of great difficulty, this partnership is a testament to the great love people have for kids and the generosity of people and organizations in our region.”
The next question was, what to do over the summer months? The team decided to continue and with the help of a generous grant from the FSD and donations from many local service groups and individuals, the financial support was there. With this money, they will continue to pack the weekly lunch supply bags (now for seven days a week) and arrange to have them picked up at the church.
In a time of great difficulty this partnership is a testament to the great love people have for kids and the generosity of people and organizations in our region.
Written by Karen Pryznyk, Okotoks United Church Board Chair