When Brady Faroldi was in his first placement as part of the Queen’s Consecutive Education program (teacher’s college), he noticed something that would change his life, and his legacy.
There, in the school, before classes began, he noticed that students would enter the classroom and drop off their backpacks, before heading back out of the room. When he asked one young girl where she was going, she told him she was going to have breakfast.
“Brady said ‘Why didn’t you eat at home?’ The little girl looked at him strangely and said, “Because there isn’t anything to eat there,”’ Brady’s mother, Roberta Faroldi recalled, six years later.
“That night Brady told us this story over dinner. Brady had followed the girl and told us that these angels were giving the kids breakfast. Brady explained that he had spoken to the women [distributing the food] and discovered that they were volunteers for The Food Sharing Project,” Roberta continued.
“The next morning, Brady was up and out the door early so he could help these women and men. I know this would have been a life-long charity that he was part of.”
Sadly, Brady didn’t have the chance to complete his education, become a teacher, and continue his work with the Food Sharing Project, as his life was cut short by an unknown cardiac issue not long after. Upon his passing, Brady’s family decided to take up what surely would have been a life-long passion for the aspiring teacher, and began a cereal drive in his honour.
As readers may recall, each year, the Faroldi family holds the cereal drive in the month leading up to the holiday season. They ask for donations of the original, yellow boxes of Cheerios and Shreddies – the cereals the Food Sharing Project distribute through school meal programs because they are low-sugar and whole grain products.
In fact, the Food Sharing Project provides food to school meal programs across Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) – typically about six tons of food each week of the school year to 88 different area schools, explained Andy Mills, Executive Director of the Food Sharing Program.
“The Student Nutrition Program typically provides about 6,000 meals or hearty snacks per week. Some students rely on it regularly (daily), while others participate less regularly for a variety of reasons,” said Mills. “Over a normal year, about half of all students in KFL&A – about 16,000 – have benefitted from a meal program at their school – elementary, secondary or alternative education.”
It was discovering just how impactful and necessary the Food Sharing Project is that made Brady want to help out, and his family now proudly fill that role for him. Each year, they put a large bin out on their front porch where people can come and drop off boxes of the preferred cereals, which all go to the Food Sharing Project. Each year, the cereal drive gets bigger, Roberta explained, and last year, the campaign delivered well over 1,000 boxes of cereal to the Project, and therefore to hungry students. As fate would have it, Brady was a big cereal lover himself, and the yellow boxes of Cheerios that fill a room in the Faroldi household each year also serve as a reminder of his favoured cereal to munch on before heading out each day.
Of course, like everything, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the Food Sharing Project in more ways than one.
“When schools shut down in March, we worked with school boards to identify families whose children rely heavily on the in-school nutrition programs – in some cases, the meal the student gets at school is their only healthy meal of the day,” Mills explained.
They developed a system to deliver food boxes to those households utilizing volunteers, many of whom were from the local Rotary Clubs. Food boxes were delivered bi-weekly to families, and grocery gift cards were mailed to more to more rural/remote families.
“Many of these families were impacted by the pandemic and school principals asked us to carry the food box program into the summer, so we did,” Mills said, noting that the Project is normally shut down for the summer.
“All told, we delivered 2750 food boxes ($138,000 value) to families, as well as about $65,000 in grocery gift cards, between April and August.”
Now, as the Food Sharing Project continues both delivered and in-school meal programs, the Faroldi cereal drive will be a big help. The annual cereal drive certainly makes a difference, Mills explained.
“This year, the cereal boxes donated will be used in our home delivery program (as schools can’t currently share food, such as a box of cereal). Although we are back to providing food for the in-school programs, all food must be individually portioned and pre-packaged, so the cost is higher, and there are fewer nutritionally substantial choices,” he said.
“We are offering food boxes to the most economically vulnerable families to supplement what their children receive in school (with a focus on breakfast and lunch foods). The cereal boxes donated through the Faroldi Cereal Drive will be used for these families. It’s also a significant financial savings to our organization.
“Not only does the cereal (and gift cards and cash donations) make a real difference and save us thousands of dollars, it’s a wonderful way for the community to show the love and support of the Faroldi family and a wonderful way to remember Brady Faroldi.”
And for Roberta and her family, being able to make that impact in Brady’s honour helps to keep his spirit alive.
“I’m sure Brady would be very happy that something good is coming from his memory. Brady was an amazing person who was kind to everyone and would help anyone in need, and he would be thrilled with the response of his friends, family, and community in helping children in need,” Roberta said.
Donations of original, yellow-boxed Cheerios and Shreddies can be dropped off in the bin located at the Faroldi residence at 1212 Amanda Court. Financial donations and donations of Costco and No Frills gift cards (two places the Food Sharing Project frequently shops) can be given directly to the Food Sharing Project.