Students at Port Elgin Regional School will benefit from not one, but two separate donations to its school food program.
At a special presentation held at the school on Monday, representatives of the Brewer Foundation were on hand to present a cheque for $20,000 to the school, which will be used to construct an outdoor greenhouse. PERS students will have the opportunity to partake of the foods grown in the new facility in the years to come.
During Monday’s presentation, the Port Elgin district voluntary action council (Pedvac) also received funding in the amount of $3,600, which will allow the organization to sponsor another 10 children in their school lunch program at PERS.
The vision of the Brewer Foundation, which is based in Fredericton, is that “every school-aged child in New Brunswick attends school well nourished and ready to learn.” The foundation recognizes that improving the lives of school-age children often happens locally where individuals take action in their communities.
At PERS, 30 children receive a cafeteria-served hot lunch each school day, funded by Pedvac. The school also provides from 50-80 students each day with breakfast food, PERS principal Christoph Becker said Monday. The school, with the assistance of Food Bank Alimentaire in Moncton, also stocks a cupboard of food that students can access at the end of the day.
“Students are free to grab something out of the cupboard on their way out each school day. In this way, children who might not otherwise have access to food in the evening, get the chance to have something to eat after school,” Becker said.
He noted the greenhouse initiative will involve both teachers and students.
“The students will play a big role in this entire initiative, from planning, building and working in the greenhouse to harvesting and ultimately consuming the food grown in it,” he said.
Becker added that a committee of teachers will work with students over the next few months and it is expected the greenhouse will be constructed adjacent to the school in the spring of 2020.
It is now known that student hunger is wide-spread today.
“Our relationship doesn’t end today (with the cheque presentation), it’s just beginning,” the Brewer Foundation’s Sandy Kitchen-Brewer said Monday. “Our mandate has really become taking care of hungry children in this province. We see it as an epidemic in this province – five to seven thousand children who have food insecurity . . . every one of them (initiatives throughout the province supported by the Brewer Foundation) is different, but the basis is all the same, helping to provide food for children who need it.”
The Foundation’s provincial strategy to eliminate student food insecurity has already assisted initiatives in various locations around the province, including Fredericton, Oromocto, Sackville, Salisbury and Port Elgin.
Through its work around the province, the Brewer Foundation is asking people to take the first step in helping to find sustainable solutions toward eliminating student hunger in their communities.