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2 Guelph food charities merge to help feed more children and families

Keep Kids Fed will run through two streams: a student nutrition program and providing children with food packages to take home from school on weekends and holidays. Amanda Kavchak/Children's Foundation of Guelph and Wellington

More food will be provided for kids and families in Guelph and the surrounding area.

The Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington have partnered with Food4Kids to better serve the Royal City and Wellington and Dufferin counties.

The move, announced in late June, will see the organizations merge and fall under a new name within the Children’s Foundation: Keep Kids Fed. The partnership will operate in two programs, Keep Kids Fed At School and Keep Kids Fed At Home.

The first is a student nutrition program and the latter will provide take-home food packages for children on weekends and holidays.

Karyn Kirkwood, executive director of the Children’s Foundation, said it made sense to bring both organizations under one unified umbrella.

“We know that the need is very high. We all feel the pinch in our home budgets with grocery costs rising,” Kirkwood said.

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She said there are a lot of families in the community living in homes that would be considered “food insecure.” Kirkwood said the partnership will not only allow them to continue to make sure children have the food that they need but also give them the opportunity to grow.

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Brittany Skelton from Food4Kids will run the at-home initiative.

Kirkwood said the decision to hire Skelton will help streamline things, insisting children and families who receive services will continue to do so and not see any disruptions.

Students whose schools are participants in the nutrition program are allowed to access it, however, Kirkwood added that a pre-application is required for those who take home the food packages. She said the program is done through a referral from the school.

Through both programs, 2,500 children will be served.

Kirkwood said food insecurity is not just in Guelph but across Canada. She said the merger will help address food insecurity in the community.

“It’s a really wonderful opportunity to minimize some of the administrative expenses that charities carry, as any business would,” she said.

Kirkwood also works as a volunteer in a breakfast program at a school in her neighbourhood. She said she’s seen first-hand how having little food to eat can affect children.

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“I see children coming in, and they come in every day to get a warm breakfast, and often don’t have any lunch with them,” she said.

Kirkwood said the goal of this partnership is simple: keep kids fed. She said it’s an obligation to have children well-fed and that families need to know that support being offered by the organization is available in schools.

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