Good News for the New School Year

Does back-to-school mean back to hot meals for students in your school community?
It does in Sarnia, Ontario, thanks to Grace United Church’s Lunch for Learning community-school partnerships.

Here’s how it works: Lunch for Learning provides a hot lunch to 450 students every month at Landsdowne, Queen Elizabeth, and High Park public schools. More than 40 volunteers supervise older students with preparing fresh fruits and vegetables: students both learn food preparation skills and forge inter-generational connections. Older students help younger students get their meals. At the respective sites, volunteers, staff, and students together sit down to eat communally.

“Key to the program’s success is the dedication of the volunteers, the continued fundraising, and a receptive school atmosphere,” says program co-ordinator Pauline Henderson-Ferguson.

“Staff and students recognize the program coordinator and volunteers. They greet us in the hallways and are disappointed if it’s not their turn to attend. They want to know what’s for lunch.”

L4L launched at High Park Public school in 2016, after expanding from Grace United’s existing L4L project started in 2014. High Park food costs were funded by a grant from the United Church Foundation. Volunteers served 16 hot lunches between October and school end. Now, efforts are underway to raise more revenue so the vital program continues.

To raise funds for L4L, on Sept. 24th at Grace United Church, volunteers will prepare and serve a country ribs dinner: $15 for adults or $17 at the door; free for kids under 12.

Henderson-Ferguson shared some of the children’s comments from last school year:

“Thank you for helping me and my classmates learn how to clean and cook.”

“We were the lucky school that got chose to have a great time chatting, eating, getting to know each other and having fun.”

“Wonderful food and hope that we can have it again. You made us make food and some people feel more comfortable around knives.”

About seven local Sarnia bodies have also contributed funds to L4L.

If you have an idea for responding to community needs through partnerships, please review The United Church of Canada Foundation’s granting programs  and contact us at grants@united-church.ca or 866-340-8223!