The Southeast Cornerstone School Division’s nutrition program is continuing to help families, even while schools are closed for classes due to COVID-19, the school board heard in a presentation at their virtual meeting on Wednesday.
The school division received a grant of $19,000 from the Breakfast Club of Canada’s emergency fund, and has been used to help families throughout the region.
Education director Lynn Little invited parents to reach out to their schools for the nutrition support, and so far, 248 families each received a $50 gift card for groceries, worth a total of $12.400.
This leaves $6,600 which will be distributed as more families are identified.
When the first set of gift cards were sent out, the families were asked if they didn’t feel they needed the assistance, to pay the card forward to another family who could use the help.
The gift cards were all bought locally, and families were requested not to use any of the gift card money for things like alcohol if they use it at a store that carries this product.
“It was kind of scary initially, because grants don’t come overnight,” said Krystal Fehrenbach, a community education liaison for Southeast Cornerstone. “We were grateful the Breakfast Club of Canada had a COVID emergency fund that came through. We reapplied to them as a school division.”
She added that the entirety of the funds will be disbursed before the end of June, as per the Breakfast Club’s request, and in return the school division is compiling numbers and receipts from the schools to report back to them about how the funds were used.
Trustee Carol Flynn thanked Fehrenbach for ensuring the gift cards were bought locally during this tough COVID pandemic. “Those businesses in the community really need that support, so that is really super. It would be interesting to see the feedback from families. Hopefully nobody was offended by that gesture, but they could pay them forward if they didn’t want it,” she said.
Some families didn’t necessarily want to self-identify as needing the assistance, noted Fehrenbach, adding, “If this can help them out a little bit, then that’s great.”
Students are also being helped in Weyburn through the Salvation Army, which is distributing 100 bagged lunches every Tuesday and Thursday until the end of June. Initially this program was set up in the parking lot of the Weyburn Free Methodist Church, but has now been moved to the Souris School parking lot, and runs from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.