“There isn’t a lot of food in my house,” says one Grade 5 student who receives a healthy lunch from The Salvation Army in Regina, Sask. “Sometimes there is nothing in our refrigerator, so if I didn’t get lunch I’d be hungry.”
In Canada, as many as one in seven children go to school hungry. They are helpless victims of poverty who don’t have the choice of packing a lunch or buying one at school.
The Salvation Army recognizes that child hunger is a critical issue and, last year, provided more than 100,000 nutritious meals to students across Canada.
Every day during the school year, The Salvation Army’s Haven of Hope Ministries in Regina delivers 140 lunches to at-risk elementary students so they have something to eat that day.
“The lunch program is very valuable to our school,” says Greg Smith, Principal at Coronation Park Community School. “With our limited budget for nutrition we are unable to provide both breakfast and lunch. And when children are fed they are ready to concentrate and learn.”
It is estimated that where there are school feeding programs children have better attendance and improved test scores. When children are trying to ignore the pangs of hunger they aren’t focusing on solving a math problem or memorizing a new word.
“The Salvation Army also fills backpacks with nutritious and easy-to-prepare food that hungry students take home with them on weekends,” says Val Wiks, The Salvation Army’s community ministry coordinator. “When Monday morning comes, teachers don’t have to compete against hunger for a child’s attention.
“A lot of reading goes into labels,” continues Val. “This ensure that the meals are nutritious and meet needs as it relates to allergies, food sensitivities and cultural differences.”
Together with its funding partners PotashCorp,The Mosaic Company and Target Canada, The Salvation Army’s feeding program is making a positive impact on the lives and education of Regina’s vulnerable children.
“Recently a young boy who participated in our anger management classes and lunch program put a loonie in my hand,” says Val. “That’s all my allowance,” he said, “but I want you to have it for helping me.”