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Helping students fuel their day; local charity looking to provide breakfast throughout summer
A local charity that serves up thousands of daily meals to schools is now delivering them right to their door. ONFE breakfast program wants to continue throughout the summer but organizers say they are going to need some help.
If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, Christine Kuete doesn't have to worry for nearly a month. The mother of four is getting a delivery of breakfast items that include milk, cereal, sugar-free applesauce and high-protein granola bars.
"There are many things in the box," Kuete said. "They are helping students I'm so happy and the kids are very very happy for that."
Before the schools were closed due to COVID-19 , the Ottawa Network for Education was serving these meals in the classroom. For nearly 30 years, the nonprofit charity has been helping kids from kindergarten to grade 12 with the tools they need to succeed.
But when the school closed, Carolyn Hunter, director of the ONFE breakfast program had to make a shift.
"In normal times we support 13,500 students every single day in 190 schools across Ottawa's four boards," Hunter said.
"We didn't know at the time what we were dealing with or how long schools were going to be closed we just reached out to the community and found partners to get food as quickly as possible to children and families."
And the community responded. Jack Larabie owns a distribution company with a fleet of trucks. With a warehouse in Vars, he receives packages and delivers the food items.
"You see a big smile on their face when they're getting breakfast," Vars said. "You don't want to see kids not having food so it's a very good program."
Today's delivery was to the Confederation Court Community House on Walkley Road. It's one of a coalition of 15 community houses that run social recreation and educational programs. Executive director Andrea Thompson hands out the boxes with her team.
Thompson says her team serves about 120 families.
"Families aren't used to having their children home all day and I'm pretty sure that they eat them out of house and home as well so it's just a little bit of a supplement besides what they can get from a food bank or their grocery shopping," she said.
The program would normally end when school does but this year the plan is to keep going. Organizers say support has been strong with nearly $140,000 raised. The ONFE is turning to the community to help them reach their $150,000 fundraising goal to get through the summer.
Each box contains enough food for 24 school days from three different food groups. Hunter says, right now, it's needed more than ever.