Local Church lends helping hand to nutritional school program

April 29, 2015


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(L-R) Volunteer Kerri Gallop, OSNP Community Manager Bev Gateman, Lutheran Church member Merle Rath, Northport coordinator Trish Lesperance, St. Joseph's coordinator Maureen Rinn, Saugeen Centre coordinator Janice Storms, Faith Lutheran's Rev.Dr. Dwight Biggs, Faith Lutheran Treasurer Erin Zorzi
Front Row:  Seth and Charlie Gallop

Formerly known as the 'Eat and Learn program of Grey-Bruce', the now 'Ontario Student Nutrition Program' (OSNP) received a financial helping hand from Faith Lutheran Church of Port Elgin on Tuesday, April 28th (2015).

Each of Port Elgin's three elementary schools received a $175 donation collected through the church's Lenten Offering Services through the period of Lent.

The program provides breakfast, lunch and snacks through the school system for young students, many of whom seem endlessly hungry due to many factors.

"For some," says OSNP Community Manager, Bev Gateman, "it can be something as simple as a growth spurt where they seem endlessly hungry.  For others, it can be a long bus ride early in the morning and by the time the young students get to school, they're hungry.  This is an all inclusive program that simply wants to see young students have access to nutritional healthy foods to help them be able to focus and learn better.  Students cannot learn if they are hungry."

The program at each school is run by volunteers who are dedicated to ensuring that students have nutritional meals.

 Maureen Rinn, coordinator of the Breakfast Club Program at St. Joseph's school in Port Elgin says that its school program operates five days a week and serves roughly 50 children a  day.  "There is no cost to the students and everyone is welcome to drop in for a healthy bite to eat," says Rinn.  "Our volunteer base includes a coordinator, five regular volunteers and a Community Living supported volunteer who bakes muffins for the program one day a week. The ages vary, however, the majority of our students are in JK through grade 4, with fewer, but still regulars in the junior/intermediate grades.  "

 At Port Elgin Saugeen Central School, there are approximately 150 students who access the Breakfast Club every morning and throughout the day at each of the two nutrition breaks.  Volunteer Coordinator, Janice Storms, adds that, "extra food is also available out of the support room for students who may not have brought a lunch or who may simply be hungry.  I try to shop as affordably as possible while keeping up nutritional standards."

The Breakfast Program at the various schools are always looking for volunteers ... whether it's grandparents or parents or aunts and uncles, volunteers help out when others can't make it for some reason.

 "It is a well-received program and a service to our school community," says Saugeen Central School Principal, Deborah Rayner.

Trish Lesperance, coordinator at Northport Public School, explains that they also offer the 'Hot Mommas' Lunches' that feature items such as lasagna and salad.  "We have 15 to 20 volunteers and always welcome more."

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Mike Berry, Port Elgin Giant Tiger store

The local schools said that they appreciated the help that the All Canadian Giant Tiger store in Port Elgin gives to the program.

The Coordinators agreed that the Giant Tiger gives back to the program with a 10% discount on all nutritional foods, event those already on sale.

"We try to help out all our community neighbours," says Mike Berry of Giant Tiger, "especially anything that involves children or young people."

While many people may want to donate food items, Gateman says that funds are more beneficial.  "With funds," she says, "we can 'bulk buy' nutritional items and also ensure that the food items do not have allergy problems and are, in fact, nutritional. So, we always welcome donations."

All Grey and Bruce schools offer nutrition programs that serve over 12,000 children per day and are always looking for volunteers dedicated to the care of children.

For more information, visit www.osnp.ca  or call Bev Gateman at 519-364-3770 ... Ext. 647

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015