As the sun shines brighter and the days grow longer and warmer, the excitement and anticipation of summer is upon us! It’s the time to breathe a sigh of relief. Many of us begin thinking about summer getaways, days on the beach or at the playground, and fun family picnics. Feed Ontario knows that for others the summer break brings hunger.
For some in our community, excitement and anticipation is replaced with added pressure and worry about how their kids will stay fed, let alone well-nourished, without access to the important school meal programs they rely on.
According to a Canadian Food Studies report, for 10 months of the year, 40 percent of Ontario families and children rely on the social and nutritional benefits that come from healthy breakfasts, lunches and snacks each and every school day through school nutrition programs.
Food banks recognize the importance of healthy eating and that parents are less stressed when nutritious food is available. It’s one less burden that families living in poverty have on their plate and one more tool that positions kids for learning when children are well nourished, developing healthy eating habits, and feeling accepted by their peers at the playground.
Food banks continue to offer innovative solutions to challenges that arise for families living in poverty. According to the 2021 Hunger Report, 91 percent of food banks in the Feed Ontario network provide programs and services beyond emergency food support. Knowing that summer break brings hunger to many families, more than 51 percent of our network of food banks provide specialty programs that support children and youth. Check out some of these helpful and forward-thinking programs that food banks across Ontario provide to bridge the gap and help ensure children have healthy snacks and meals throughout the summer.
The Knights Table breakfast club in Brampton helps build and foster healthy eating habits, introduces children to a variety of foods, and fosters community and social engagement.
A number of food banks offer snack programs in their communities. In Sarnia, at The Inn of the Good Shepherd, nutritious snacks are distributed to youngsters in geared-to-income housing neighbourhoods. The program has expanded to serve three communities since 2016.
Over in Orillia, The Sharing Place’s School Fuel program packs 300 snack bags every week and provides them to local agencies when schools are closed. They also distribute 400 snack bags each month to kids through the food bank program.
The GBF Community Services in Grimsby and the Stratford House of Blessing provide families with monthly packs of healthy snacks, while Food Banks Canada’s After the Bell program helps local food banks by providing thousands of snack packs filled with nutritious, shelf-stable, and child-friendly foods like milk, hummus, oatmeal and sunflower seeds.
Through innovation and agility, food banks are there to help alleviate the impacts of poverty in their communities, with children’s snack and meal programs being just one way they keep families fed in the summer.
To help bring much-needed relief to families and the food banks they rely on this summer, donate to Feed Ontario here or support a children’s food program in your community through a donation or by volunteering at your local food bank. Find your closest food bank with our find a food bank tool.