Efforts underway to replace school lunch programs during COVID-19 closures

Efforts underway to replace school lunch programs during COVID-19 closures

When Erin Rideout, director of the Inner City Youth Ministry learned Friday that schools across the province would be closed for a minimum of two weeks, she said her first thought went to students who rely on the school lunch program.

The organization provides about 47,000 free and subsidized lunches a year in three schools in three Saint John neighbourhoods through the Lunch Connection Program. 

“It was of concern for the families in the neighbourhoods where we work because many of them rely on these food programs for their kids,” Rideout said.

“And where it’s a surprise for many families, maybe they didn’t have a chance to go out to the stores and prepare.” 

3 lunch-bag locations

Starting Monday, families will be able to pick up bagged lunches at three locations from noon to 1 p.m. Those locations are PULSE Inc. at 251 Wentworth St., the Nick Nicolle Community Centre in the old north end and outside, at the splash pad in Crescent Valley. Those pickups will run from Monday to Friday. 

“It’s kind of grab and go,” Rideout said of the 500-plus lunches that will be prepared.

“We’ll be preparing the bagged lunches each day in a community kitchen in the south end at the St. John the Baptist/King Edward School.”  

Food security is a real issue in Saint John.- Erin Rideout

Rideout said all public health recommendations and guidelines are followed in the preparation and asked people to not attend the lunch pickup if they are sick or have travelled. 

Rideout said they are working closely with schools to get the information out to families, and using social media as well.

“I think this will be a relief and help to sort of ease some of the anxiety and maybe a little bit of fear that’s in our communities right now. It’s one less thing for people to worry about.” 

Rideout said there were a few different reasons why the organization was concerned, including knowing many families would not be receiving their child tax credit until Friday. 

“Food security is a real issue in Saint John and in a lot of these communities, and we want to make sure that they will be continued to be supported.” 

Gail Harding
CBC News
Read the full article here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/nb-school-lunch-programs-covid-19-1.5498836