As schools across Alberta are forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the provincial government is expanding the reach of a program aimed at offering food assistance to vulnerable students.
The School Nutrition Program helps feed students in participating schools from kindergarten through to Grade 12. However, with all provincial schools now closed, the government is offering funding to non-profit organizations to help bring the nutrition program outside school walls.
“Ensuring our students do not go hungry while in-person classes are cancelled is of the utmost importance,” Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said in a statement on Thursday.
“We are giving non-profits and school boards the funds and flexibility to find solutions to provide meals or food for students as they learn at home. I commend their efforts to meet students’ needs during this challenging time.”
The $3 million will be divided between nine community organizations located in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray.
Each organization will receive either $300,000 or $375,000 to help feed students in need.
“These significant dollars allow us to provide supplementary food packages to the most food-insecure families we have been supporting during this school year,” said Barb Spencer with e4c, one of the organizations receiving a portion of the new funding.
“The flexibility associated with these funds strengthens our ability to significantly impact monthly the food security of some of our partner schools’ most vulnerable students and families during these unprecedented times.”
The new funding is an addition to the $15.5 million that had been allocated to the school nutrition program for the 2019-2020 school year.
During the closures, the government is asking schools to continue using their allocated funding to help feed students in any way possible.
If money from the program is left over, schools are asked to direct their remaining funds to non-profit organizations in the community that can help continue to feed students during the pandemic.
Here is a list of the non-profit organizations receiving funding as part of the nutrition program:
- e4c in Edmonton: $375,000
- Hope Mission in Edmonton and area: $375,000
- Calgary Meals on Wheels: $375,000
- Brown Bagging for Calgary: $375,000
- Breakfast Club of Canada in Fort McMurray: $300,000
- Salvation Army in Grande Prairie: $300,000
- Lethbridge Food Bank: $300,000
- Medicine Hat and District Food Bank: $300,000
- The Mustard Seed in Red Deer and central Alberta: $300,000