Red Deer schools hope to keep student lunch programs

Two public schools in Red Deer are searching for ways to keep their student lunch programs afloat.

Fairview Elementary received provincial funding for a pilot program three years ago, while Normandeau School was given funding for 2018-19.

With a new government in charge, that funding is not expected to be renewed, according to Fairview School principal Kim Walker.

“We just witness such a change in our students, so we’re going to be looking for alternatives, seeking partnerships with The Mustard Seed and The Salvation Army,” she says. “We’ll be looking for things like milk, fresh fruit and vegetables. We’re not anticipating the full program will go ahead, although we see parts of it that will be a very good fit for our students.”

Fairview and Normandeau schools were chosen to receive pilot funding in part because of the socio-economic realities of their neighbourhoods.

Caroline Tindall, a Red Seal Chef and Normandeau School’s Nutrition Coordinator, says it’s heartbreaking some days seeing how hungry some students are when they get to class.

“We wanted to take away the stigmatism of kids asking for food, or needing food. Students have access to fresh baked goods, fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, and there’s an open-door policy on our room,” says Tindall.

“If the kids for some reason don’t make it to breakfast club, and need a snack in the morning because who knows what has gone on at home and they’ve left without a breakfast, they can ask for a sandwich or a bowl of cereal.”

With the funding not being extended at this time, Tindall is going all out to make sure students come into the 2019/20 school year with the same ability.

A campaign is underway to get businesses on board for a $1000 donation split over 10 months, with a goal of raising a total of $100,000 from 100 businesses.

Hans Huizing, Principal at Normandeau, says the difference the program has made for students is, “quite something.”

“When we take a look at kids that are hangry, it is very difficult to get through to them in terms of their learning ability. The brain needs glucose to work,” he says. “For us, it’s made such an impact that these kids knew they could come to school, could have a meal in the morning and at lunch time. Then we take a look at the advancements they’ve made academically, behaviourally, and socially, and it’s been such a great asset to our school.”

For more information on Normandeau’s fundraising campaign, contact Caroline Tindall or Hans Huizing at 403-342-0727. Donations can also be dropped off at Normandeau School.