Inflation takes a bite out of school nutrition program
A school nutrition program run by the Victorian Order of Nurses is feeling the effects of rising food prices.
The Ontario Student Nutrition Program (OSNP) feeds 28,000 students at 93 participating schools in Windsor Essex.
But this year, the cost of food has increased while funding has not increased.
« We need to make sure the funds are there to fill the funding gap so that we can purchase these good quality items in sufficient quantity to serve the whole school, » said Danielle Findlay, community relations supervisor for OSNP. . .
Findlay said the provincial government and its donor partners fund 30% of the per-student cost of about $2.50, leaving the OSNP to find donors to cover the rest.
It’s been tough on the program since the start of the pandemic. With schools closed to foreigners, volunteers were unable to work on the program and outside help had to be hired to pack and wrap the food, which also increased the cost.
Temporary COVID funding to cover these costs is no longer there, and volunteers are hard to come by as they have not returned.
The pandemic has also hampered fundraising efforts by agencies and service clubs that have helped fill the shortfall. OSNP is struggling to continue to cover costs, let alone find a way to get more money to cover food inflation.
« We used to help them with our kids’ snacks and we used to deliver to schools, » said Ali Bazzi, food rescue manager for the UHC Hub of Opportunity Plentiful Harvest program.
« Those kinds of things have died down just because donations have slowed down over the past few months and over the year during the pandemic, » he said, adding that they will try to help with snacks this year.
Findlay also hopes to convince other service clubs and agencies to resume some fundraising to continue providing food.
“The results associated with student nutrition programs don’t just fill hungry bellies. It is increased concentration. This is improved behavior. This helps ensure they make healthy choices at school and at home. This promotes connection with the environment and the earth. Findlay said.
She also hopes the Canadian government will announce a federal school meals program in the April budget.