It’s nearly school time and, as many families struggle to make ends meet, Salvation Army centres across Canada are working with communities to provide school breakfast programs, after-school activities and back-to-school supplies.
Breakfast and Feeding Programs
Hunger is a growing problem in Canada. Many Canadians aren’t aware that large numbers of children, women and men in this country often go to bed hungry. Food Banks Canada states that, in 2008, more than 704,000 Canadians received food from a food bank every month.
From coast to coast 217 Salvation Army community and family services centres, 78 community feeding programs and 18 school breakfast programs reach out to the vulnerable in marginalized in local neighbourhoods who don’t have sufficient or adequate food.
In Saskatoon, at 7 a.m. every day, volunteers roll into The Salvation Army Community Centre to start making breakfast. Fried eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage and toast is on the menu. By 8 a.m. breakfast is served from The Salvation Army’s community response vehicle to hungry youth. The program began in January 2002 with just a few children. It now serves between 40 and 100 children and youth every day.
For many parents and guardians, their children’s school day is often shorter than their work day. When Captain Randy Hale discovered many of his daughter’s friends woke up alone and returned to an empty house every day he started an informal after-school drop-in at The Salvation Army in Fort McMurray, A.B. Neighbourhood latch-key kids gather to enjoy a safe, secure, fun place until their parents arrive home from work.
Moving east, Uniacke Square is a public housing residential area in the north central area of Halifax. Today, two-thirds of the residents of the Square are women, and two-thirds are under 25. Unemployment is 60 percent. The neighbourhood around the Square is home to a number of front-line service agencies. In 2008, at the request of the community, The Salvation Army opened its Open Arms Teen Centre to help promote literacty and education. The after-school program is a perfect fit for community teens get help reading and homework. Fun, educational activities in the refurbished housing unit keeps the teens coming back.
From August 1-31, 2009, The Salvation is partnering with Sleep Country Canada in its annual Backpacks for Kids program. The program supports children in grades one through seven who can’t afford new school supplies.
Canadians are encouraged to drop off new backpacks filled with school supplies at local Sleep Country stores. Donations will be distributed to local children through The Salvation Army and KidsFest, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping young Canadians who live at or below the poverty line.
Since the Backpack for Kids program began in 2005, and with the generous support of the public, more than 20,000 backpacks filled with supplies have to given to children in need.
How you can help
The economic downturn has affected so many across Canada. In 2008, The Salvation Army saw a 10-30% increase in demand for services, particularly in the area of food banks, in every province. Many who once donated to The Salvation Army, became clients.
Everyone can play a part in reducing poverty. You can volunteer at a local food bank, organize a food drive, or donate food. You can fill a backpack, help at an after-school program or donate funds.
If you are able, partner with us as we continue to give hundreds of thousands of Canadians help for today and hope for tomorrow