Generous gift supports student nutrition programs across LDSB

A generous gift from Limestone Learning Foundation will see Limestone District School Board (LDSB) students supported with access to fresh and healthy food to improve learning readiness.

The $100,000 gift will support The Food Sharing Project’s Student Nutrition Programs in schools, and home-delivery food boxes to vulnerable families in school communities across the school board, and is the single largest gift to The Food Sharing Project to date.

According to a release from LDSB, the Limestone Learning Foundation (LLF) is a registered charity, established by the Limestone District School Board in 1999, to enhance educational opportunities for students by raising money for projects and initiatives that could not otherwise be offered by the school board through its regular government funding.

In designing how to best support student learning and wellness during the pandemic, the LLF connected with The Food Sharing Project (FSP).  “They provide a crucial service to students, COVID-19 has challenged their delivery model and food costs,” notes Adam Young, Chair of the LLF Board.  “We decided that there was an immediate role to be played to help keep students fed and learning.”

Due to COVID-19 health risks and school closures, the LLF pivoted from its typical activities supporting learning projects in schools, to providing some funding and volunteer drivers to The Food Sharing Project through the spring and summer months, according to an LDSB release, dated Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. Although they have suspended grants and events, the health and wellness of students remains a priority, says the LLF. “Supporting this essential service fits into the LLF mandate and the Board is honoured to contribute,” adds Young.

The LLF continues to work closely with the LDSB, and its community partners and agencies, in order to be of essential educational support to students’ learning, and when it is appropriate to do so, the Foundation remains prepared to fund new projects, according to the release.

Throughout the pandemic, food security has become one of the most serious issues facing the community. Recent data from the United Way indicates 1800 meals a day are served across Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.  Before COVID-19, that number was 100 meals a day.

As the organization which provides nutritious food to students in schools, the Food Sharing Project realized, as soon as schools closed in March, that they had to find a way to get the food students depended on at school, to them at home. Brenda Moore, Chair of The Food Sharing Project affirms, “Through the generous support of the Limestone Learning Foundation the Food Sharing Project will now be able to provide food stability for students and their families during these unpredictable times.”

The FSP provides over 6000 meals every week to students in their schools and those learning from home, according to the release. In addition, the FSP currently supports over 200 families with a bi-weekly food box, which provides breakfast and lunch items, to supplement the single-serve nutritious food that is available at school. Due to COVID-19 protocols, the FPS is limited to what it can offer students at schools. Andy Mills, Executive Director of the FSP adds, “It is our hope that the food box will help families bridge the gap in their budgets to provide much needed nourishment for the many, many students who typically eat breakfast and lunch at school.”

Many of the 22,000 students attending LDSB schools and alternative education sites rely heavily on School Nutrition Programs, the school board stated in the release. School data indicates 50% of all students access this program at one time or another – some occasionally, some daily. Half of the $100,000 gift will be directed to help offset a 35% increase in food costs for in-school Student Nutrition Programs. The second half of the LLF’s gift will go to support the bi-weekly home delivery of food boxes or grocery gift cards, up to the end of the 2020/2021 school year, for up to 450 families.

About the Food Sharing Project

The Food Sharing Project is a registered charity that has been providing nourishment for students to improve their readiness to learn for 38 years. As a partner in the Ontario Student Nutrition Program, The Food Sharing Project typically provides six tons of food every week of the school year to 88 elementary, secondary and alternative education sites across Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington. Volunteers in schools provide nutritious meals and hearty snacks that are accessible to any student, regardless of need, in a stigma-free and caring environment. Educators and research tells us that students who eat nutritious food at school are more engaged in their learning, can focus better on tasks and can have more positive social interactions throughout the day. Students can take advantage of all that school has to offer.

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