Pilot project stretches dollars for Windsor school nutrition programs
The VON held an event Friday, May 31, 2013, in Windsor, Ont. to celebrate the successful wrapup of a pilot program that delivered healthy snacks to over 110 classrooms across Windsor and Essex County over the last three months. Stephanie Segave, regional manager for the VON’s student nutrition program and chef Robert Catherine, culinary instructor with the Unemployed Help Centre’s Ple rolex watches for sale ntiful Harvest program pose with some of the fresh local produce used for the program. The chef and his students prepared the assortment of healthy snacks for the students.(DAN JANISSE/The Windsor Star)It costs just four cents per spinach muffin, when you search out ingredients in bulk rolex watches for sale from local farmers and wholesalers and have high school co op students bake them, 3,000 at a time.
That the strategy behind a new pilot project the local VON Canada has just completed that provides more nutritious locally grown food for school nutrition programs.
get a couple of bags of flour and some eggs and milk and two bags of spinach and voila, you got 3,000 muffins, said Stephanie Segave, the manager of the Ontario School Nutrition program for the VON, which is responsible for flowing the government dollars ($500,000 for Windsor Essex) for school nutrition programs throughout Southwestern Ontario.
The usual way that done is to hand out grants to each school 14 cents per student, per day for one snack and those schools have the principal or parents run out to shop for food. Then volunteers have to process the food into kid sized portions. The entire process is a tax on volunteers and often costs more than what the schools get in grants, said Segave. Most schools do fundraising, seeking donations of cash and rolex watches for sale food to top up what they get from the VON to keep their nutrition programs going. If they don raise money, their programs can end months before the last day of school.
we trying to look for more efficient ways to use that money, Segave said.
The pilot involved six schools with about 2,500 students. For the last three months they been treated to servings of fresh fruits and vegetables like strawberries and apples, veggie sushi and homemade granola bars.
went out and purch rolex watches for sale ased food at wholesalers and local farmers and greenhouse growers, looking for good deals such as No. 2 berries ones that are cheaper because they have minor blemishes. They buy the berries in high quantities and have the co op students, led by Chef Robert Catherine in the Unemployed Help Centre commercial kitchen, process them. At a cost of around 15 cents a unit, they produce apple berry fruit cups or tubes that would probably cost about 40 cents in a grocery store, said Segave.
But the bigger goal is getting kids eating healthier, she said. Research shows that children who are provided with fresh produce in their classroom, surrounded by their peers, shifts their food preferences. Kids have gotten to like raw asparagus, veggie sushi and broccoli, said Segave.
is the big piece of the puzzle when it comes to (preventing) childhood obesity. said the VON is hoping to expand the program to more schools next school year. The proposal has gone to Children and Youth Services Minister Teresa Piruzza (Windsor West). The cost would be about 25 cents per snack per day, or about $50 per student annually, compared to current funding which amounts to $26 per student.
In the last 15 years, the school nutrition program has evolved from a breakfast program to help underprivileged kids in inner city schools where some kids came to school hungry, to a more universal program for any school that wants to enroll. It removes the stigma that the program is only for poor kids, said Mary Lynn Biggley, a community development officer at the Greater Essex County District School Board who is co ordinator of Jump Start, which promotes school nutrition programs throughout Windsor Essex.
doesn matter who you are, the wealthiest family or the poorest, it about all kids, said Biggley, crediting the efforts of an army of volunteers. At one Kingsville school, the program is like a trick to grandma and grandpa kitchen, she said. At another, a group of Grade 8s has taken the program on with admirable passion. A typical breakfast is cereal, milk and fruit, or toast, cheese and fruit.
Biggley said volunteers hear heartbreaking stories of how important the program is to kids, such as the girl at one school who reported that the most wonderful thing that happened to her all week was receiving a piece of fruit at the breakfast program.
Meals served: 3.3 million meals served per year to 23,225 students at 83 schools in Windsor and Essex County. Thirty five per cent of the 66,614 students in the region are in nutrition programs. Fifty six per cent of the 147 elementary and secondary schools have nutrition programs.
Volunteers: A total of 6,385 volunteers work a total of 293,463 hours providing snacks or meals to children at area schools. The volunteers include 1,270 school staff, 1,353 parents, 282 grandparents and 697 other volunteers from the community.
Funding: Money from the Ontario government is flowed through the VON to local schools for nutrition programs. It amounts to 14 cents for one snack per student per day, or $26 per student annually. That adds up to about $500,000 annually in Windsor Essex. But that usually doesn pay the true cost. So schools fundraise to provide an extra one or two snacks per day.
Growth: The number of school nutrition programs has skyrocketed since the late 1990s, when they were limited to a handful of inner city schools in Windsor where it was hoped a nutritious breakfast would help underprivileged kids concentrate on their studies. Since then, the program has broadened to include all children as a way to encourage healthy eating habits.
Costs: The costs of providing these snacks run anywhere from 11 cents to 26 cents, and even run as high as $1.35 at one high school, depending on what included and what food donated from organizations like Forgotten Harvest, the food rescue operation.
The VON held an event Friday, May 31, 2013, in Windsor, Ont. to celebrate the successful wrap up of a recent pilot program that delivered healthy snacks to over 110 classrooms across Windsor and Essex County over the last three months. Students David Ward (L) and Billy Arbeau, with the Unemployed Help Centre Plentiful Harvest program helped prepare the assortment of healthy snacks for the students.(DAN JANISSE/The Windsor Star)
The VON held an event Friday, May 31, 2013, in Windsor, Ont. to celebrate the successful wrap up of a recent pilot program that delivered healthy snacks to over 110 classrooms across Windsor and Essex County over the last three months. Student Billy Arbeau, with the Unemployed Help Centre Plentiful Harvest program helped prepare the assortment of healthy snacks for the students.(DAN JANISSE/The Windsor Star)