Families feeling the crunch of rising food prices as they send their kids off to school each day now have somewhere to turn in the form of Woolwich Community Services’ new Lunch Crunch program.Its goal is to help low-income families provide students with two healthy snacks per school day.
In regular food hampers, which have been a focus for the organization, children’s lunch foods were limited to five boxes of juice and five snacks per hamper, which did not even begin to meet the demand of two daily nutrition breaks at schools, said director of community support Kellie Christie.
For those families, those extra food demands come with a steep price tag, she said, noting many parents don’t have the option of sending their children home for lunch.
Launched last week, the program got financial support from United Steel Workers Local 13691, representing Trylon TSF and Chemtura in Elmira, after WCS sent out a request for donations.
Christie initially reached out with a request of $3,200 to fund Lunch Crunch for a year. Union Local 13691 president John Douglas reviewed the request, coming back with an offer to donate a third of the amount, roughly $1,067, and encouraged affiliate companies to match that cost. Trylon went on to donate the same amount, both sums paid directly to the Woolwich Food Bank. Current funds will keep the program running until the end of June, coinciding with the end of the school year. Christie hopes to again reach out for donations for the following fall.
“I think the initial focus came from the union and the guys on the floor. They wanted to do something for the community that has been good to them,” said Terry Clarke, chief financial officer at Trylon.
Lunch Crunch is run by four volunteers who use the money to shop for lunch-friendly groceries each week. Families can come Mondays from 11 a.m. to noon on a drop-in basis and choose enough ingredients for every student in their household. For each child families can take 10 fruits, five vegetables, one loaf of bread and two or three cans of canned meats. The Lunch Crunch hampers follow the Canadian Food Guide and include meat alternatives if needed.
Families eligible must be low-income and reside in Woolwich Township or the northern part of Wellesley, which includes Heidelberg, St. Clements and Linwood areas.
The public is also being encouraged to make cash donations to the program. Those interested in donating can still give lunch food items, like 100 per cent juice boxes and peanut-free snacks, such as fruit cups. Cash donations will go towards the purchase of fresh produce.
Christie is optimistic about fundraising efforts. She said small, frequent donations would help a lot, and even a donation worth one day of eating out “is all it will take” to keep the program afloat.