Since mid-March everything has changed dramatically regarding the need for healthy food for students who would normally rely on our student nutrition programs at school. Since the schools closed their doors, we have revised how we do deliver food to meet this need with a mobile “Pop Up Snack” program. This summer the need for healthy food will continue to be a concern for many families and Nutrition for Learning will continue their POPUP SNACK program.
Children across Waterloo Region need us now, more than ever. This is a difficult time and the reality is many families in our community are struggling to put food on the table. We started the first week by distributing 100 bags a week and it has quickly grown to 500 bags per day and continues to grow. As well we continue to hear from teachers about the concern and the need of students who rely on our programs in their communities.
Our Pop-Up Snack Program distributes approximately 500 bags with a selection of food items that were normally available to students when Nutrition for learning programs were still in the schools such as yogurt, cheese, applesauce, healthy crackers, or cereal etc. A bag is offered to each student in a family in attendance at that location and consists of enough snacks for several days.
In addition to the snack bags and when available, we are distributing some extra food items to families such as canned beans, loaf of bread, chicken noodle soup etc. These items are not offered all the time and are only meant to enhance the snack bags. If families need more support due to food insecurity, they are directed to contact the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.
There is no registration or ID required to receive a healthy snack bag. Only one person per family is required to show up to the Pop-Up Snack location, although all family members are welcome to come out to make it an outing.
Along with providing food, the pop-up food delivery gives children a “sense of normalcy” because they recognize the trucks and aprons from school visits, and they know the people handing out the bags. “This provides a comfort level that helps children feel safe and fed, and families calm and for those parents who have lost their job due to closures during the pandemic, money is tight right now. It’s a small piece of the answer, but it’s an important piece,” – Mary D’Alton- Director of Strategic Initiatives and Operations Our pop up locations are shared via social media daily and available online at www.nutritionforlearning.ca/popupsnacks