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Thursday, June 4, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

Summer school means charitable lunches are still in demand

With school out and much more free time available, summer is generally thought of as a leisurely time for students and teachers.

But not everybody’s on holidays, as summer school means there’s a smattering of both kids and educators still at it. Likewise, there’s still work to be done for the folks at Nutrition for Learning, an Ayr-based charity that provides healthy lunches at no cost to those who need them.

“Obviously summer school is great; some of it is by choice, some of it’s not by choice,” said Brian Banks, interim executive director at the organization. “But it’s still summer, and we want to make sure everyone has the same firm grounding in there. So whether you call that a snack or a full meal, we want to make sure that nobody goes hungry and everybody has something to keep them going.”

The meals provided are all healthy – the likes of cheese, apples, juice, granola bars, and hard-boiled eggs – and are served at 10 Waterloo Region schools offering summer classes. Nearly 3,000 students are being served in July.

“All those different schools have different needs, and I would say volumes as well. Some of them are very large; some of them are up to 1,400 students,” explained Banks.

“Then we have some that are 700, but we also have schools with 50 attending at some of the elementary [schools],” added Tania Moser, program support and development at Nutrition for Learning.

They can continue providing this service with the help of a $5,000 grant from the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Foundation.

That arrangement has been going on for about three years, said Banks.

“This isn’t something we get funding from the Ontario ministry to support,” he explained. “So we normally seek out grants and funders to help us deal with it.”

Generally, it provides a sense of relief to students. The organization aims to ensure no student goes hungry regardless of socioeconomic background.

“You’d be surprised how quickly they enjoy it,” said Banks. “You can just see they’re happy, they know it’s there, they grab it: cheese, hard-boiled eggs, apples, granola bars, juice laid out there for them. Surprisingly enough, the hard-boiled eggs are enjoyed. It’s also reassuring knowing that it’s there.”

Students may attend summer school at both the elementary and secondary level for a variety of reasons. EDSS, for instance, offers both credit recovery along with new credit in-school courses and new credit blended learning courses. The latter involves a flexible learning environment where students use a variety of online resources.

A summer school co-op is also available for EDSS students, suitable for those who cannot fit the co-op into their day-school schedules, or to those dedicated to getting experience before applying to college or university.

“When you think of summer school you think ‘oh, failed a credit, have to make it up’ or ‘want to get out of high school sooner.’ We support those as well,” said Moser.

There are plenty of credit courses available for students looking to get ahead for grades 10 through 12, such as math functions, law, English,  biology, and civics. Students complete 110 hours of teacher-delivered in-class instruction for their chosen topic and can take a maximum of one credit per session.

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