Just as many high school students are going to school hungry as elementary school students.
That is why the Friends In Need Food Bank’s School Meal and Snack program is expanding its reach this year.
At the end of the school year in June, the food bank started a pilot project with Westview Secondary school to supply the school with dried goods like granola bars for a sharing basket where students can just take what they need.
They also supplied pancake mixes, cereals and dairy and eggs for hot breakfasts.
The Kiwanis Club of Golden Ears were already providing a breakfast program two days a week at the school feeding between 90 to 120 students.
“That’s roughly the amount of students that are looking for something,” said Karen Osborne, coordinator of the Friends In Need program.
“This is so they can fill in their gaps. This way they can order dairy and provide larger breakfasts, egg breakfasts. They can choose and do however they want to do with their program,” she said.
The Food Bank became involved in the elementary schools across the school district as children were going to school and not being able to concentrate because they were hungry.
Last year they serviced 530 elementary school students.
“That shows how large the need is,” said Osborne.
Sharing baskets are popular in a lot of schools because children can grab what they need, when they want it and are not segregated into separate breakfast rooms.
Almost all of the elementary schools in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are part of the program in some form. They fill out an online order form each week for their dry goods and dairy needs.
”We don’t run the program for them. They run their own program at the school, we just provide what they need,” reiterated Osborne, adding that schools are also able to get lunch items as well if they want.
Osborne has already reached out to Maple Ridge secondary.
Their numbers are similar to Westview’s with around 100 students that could benefit from the meal and snack program.
Osborne is excited to be reaching out to the high schools because the need is there and it is widespread, she noted.
“We just want to see our kids with full tummies.”