Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald
When the bell rang to signal lunchtime on Tuesday at St. Michael Community School, students flooded out of their classrooms to fill their stomachs.
But some needed an ’emergency lunch’ because of a lack of money or any reason they didn’t have food to fuel their learning.
The Feeding our Futures program is bound together by a variety of partners: Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division, Prince Albert Roman Catholic Separate School Division, Broda Group, Lake Country Co-op, Lakeland Ford and Lakeland Hyundai.
Each makes it possible to ensure every student is getting a nutritious lunch, including sandwiches, yogurt, a piece of fruit, veggies and juice.
Vice-Principal for St. Michael, Lori-Anne Stiglitz, said the kids are always appreciative.
“Looking at the dignity of the child and letting them have the sandwiches or the fruit, no questions asked, like if you need it, they take it, they eat it,” she said.
Although they don’t normally have leftovers at the end of the week, when they do, they send them home with kids they know will need a good meal over the weekend.
“We don’t know what’s going on in their world, how much they’ve eaten over the weekend, so I find Mondays in particular, the students are very appreciative of receiving the lunches.”
She laughed describing that kids like their juice boxes, often trying to sneak a couple at a time.
Stiglitz helped a few students present a thank you card to Scott Newsom with Lakeland Ford and Hyundai.
He said this is their third year of helping to fund the emergency lunches.
“I know for me, I couldn’t imagine my kids going to school and not having the nutrition they needed,” he said. “(There’s) nothing worse than thinking of kids that are coming to school hungry and they don’t have the ability to learn at their top potential.”
Each student lined up to work their way down the table of healthy options.
Stiglitz said the school has learned to adjust the program by placing everything out for the kids to pick and choose, whereas they used to provide lunch bags with everything in them.
About 20 to 50 kids per day are in need of an emergency lunch at the school out of a total of 250.
But St. Michael isn’t the only one benefitting from Feeding our Futures.
Principal at Westview Public School, Cheryl Arcand, gave a tour of their building, which educates about the same amount of kids as St. Michael.
She expressed seeing the first-hand difference on learners with full stomachs.
“I always say to the kids (food) is just like gas. When you put gas in a vehicle for the engine to run, (food is) our gas,” said Arcand.
Education assistant Cindy Gouldhiwke was busy preparing sandwiches for the upcoming lunch hour.
“We had one little guy come in and say, you know ‘I was hungry Friday,’ he says. ‘I’m hungry today, too,’ she explained. “We get all those sort of scenarios and it’s awesome for the little ones because they are little wee people that maybe haven’t had a good meal the night before or through the weekend and they know they can depend on (us).”
Gouldhiwke noted having a smaller school allows them to put lots of care into providing meals.
“They feel part of the school and not singled out as being the hungry ones,” she said while spreading butter on bread.
While Broda Group, Lakeland Ford and Lakeland Hyundai fund the emergency lunches, Lake Country Co-op puts together the orders and provides the food that feeds young, hungry mouths.
Last year, Feeding our Futures provided over 50,000 lunches to Prince Albert elementary school students.