Lethbridge lunch program goes mobile after COVID-19 threat closes schools

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge partnership sees lunches delivered to students at home' Lethbridge partnership sees lunches delivered to students at home
WATCH: A partnership between three Lethbridge organizations is ensuring that students are still being provided with nutritious lunches while at home during the COVID-19 crisis. Danica Ferris has more. – Apr 1, 2020

Thirteen volunteer delivery drivers made more than 100 stops on Wednesday as an initiative that feeds Lethbridge students went mobile.

“Mindful Munchies was a collaboration between My City Care and Lethbridge Food Bank, that went through the school year, where we provided nutritious lunches to different schools in the city,” said Maral Kiani Tari, executive director of the Lethbridge Food Bank.

“When the schools closed due to COVID-19, that program kind of stopped as well, but we wanted to continue providing those nutritious lunches.”

The food bank teamed up with My City Care, as well as the Holy Spirit Catholic School Division, to take the program to homes across the city; to supplement the nutritional and mental wellness of students.

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“In each of the deliveries we’re including a nice little positive mental health game or activity,” said Anita Lethbridge-Gross, the coordinator of Counselling and Wellness for Holy Spirit.

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Lethbridge-Gross said choosing families to reach out to for the initiative has been based on staff recommendations.

“Students that we know have potentially been engaged in our breakfast program or lunch program at school… staff — with their great relationships — have identified families that we want to support, or at least offer that support to,” she said.

Staff at the food bank said every precaution is being taken to ensure delivered materials are safe and sanitary before being sent to students’ homes.

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Drivers drop off bagged items at the doors of homes and then watch that they have been collected from their cars.

Those involved in the mobile initiative said they are carefully considering best practice.

“The current situation is new to everyone and it’s something that we are adapting and changing as we go,” said Kiani Tari.

Part of the focus is also ensuring that the deliveries serve as a wellness check on students, but from a safe social distance.

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“That social interaction is so important right now,” said Jen Tribble, director of My City Care, “[but] our team is very conscious of the extra measures that we need to take through social distancing and those things.

“So we’re just working at developing a system that’s going to be able to do both.”

A partnership with the Lethbridge School Division is also in the works, as organizers hope to see the program continue for as long as schools are closed.

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