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Meal program feeds and educates children at Toronto summer camps

Summerlunch+ feeds and teaches children healthy eating
WATCH ABOVE: Summerlunch+ feeds more than a thousand children at summer camps in six different locations around Toronto. Children in high-needs communities learn first-hand the value of a healthy meal and good food habits. Susan Hay has the story.

During the school year, breakfast and lunch programs are essential to a child’s health and to learning. But what happens during the summer months?

“We aren’t just people who are popping into a community and dropping a program. We’re actually connected in the community,” said Susan Wright, the founder of Summerlunch+.

“We get to know the children over the eight weeks that we’re here delivering lunch and it’s a lovely relationship that we love to come back to summer after summer.”

Summerlunch+ is a food literacy and meal program that feeds more than a thousand children at six different locations in high-needs communities across the city.

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“I like when they give us food,” said 6-year-old Ebere-Duru Divine. ”They fill my belly up and we eat things and get stronger and stronger and stronger.”

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With Wright’s guidance and expertise, children learn first-hand the value of a healthy meal setting them up for long-term success.

“In my culture, we do not tend to focus as much on healthy eating,” said Mishal Shaikh, the community food leader with Summerlunch+

“Summerlunch+ has given me and my family the opportunity to eat healthy and to continue like that.”

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“We focus on plant-based foods because most of our community is coming from all kinds of different backgrounds,” Wright said.

All of the meals are Halal along with vegetarian options.

“I was in Grade 8 when I first came to Canada,” said Shaikh. “I was 13 when I was a camper and it was also the launch of the program in 2016, when  Summerlunch+ served me. I tried loads of new foods that summer, some that I didn’t know existed like guacamole.”

“We partner with organizations that believe in the vision of feeding and educating kids,” Wright said. “Investing now in kids is immediate because we know their bellies are full and they’re ready to learn in school, but we also see this investment over multiple years, if not decades. We grow healthy kids over time.”

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