There are some 4,000 students who participate in the Food Sharing program in schools. Many of these children receive breakfast, lunch and a snack every school day between September and June. My program, Isthmus, bridges the gap between Friday and Monday for these children giving them a hamper of food for the weekend. With COVID-19, numbers are growing and will continue to do so.
When the schools closed, these programs had to rethink how to get food to these children (and their families). The FSP and Isthmus partnered sharing resources and ideas and, with the help of the Limestone District and Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District school boards, and with other partners like Lionhearts and Stock Transportation, we developed a new model. The education boards sought permission from families to share their addresses, phone numbers and number of children in each family. They have subsequently, through their Principals, identified families in need and received the necessary permissions. As of 3:00 pm today, almost 400 families in 31 schools have asked to participate in our food distribution program. Again, this number is sure to grow as situations become more precarious.

We held our first distribution on Friday handing out 226 hampers to 167 families. This test involved the 5 schools that my program serves. Those schools are Rideau Heights PS, JG Simcoe PS, Molly Brant PS, Centennial PS and St. Francis of Assisi CS. Food was purchased or donated on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hampers were packed on Thursday and Friday. The food was delivered between 2:30 pm and 5:30 pm on Friday. Families receiving the food were so thankful!

For this delivery, the hampers included the following items: one block of cheese, one litre of milk, broccoli, a small bag of carrots, 4 apples, 4 bananas, 4 oranges, 2 boxes of mac and cheese, a can of pasta sauce, a package of spaghetti, 2 cups of apple sauce, 2 juice boxes, a loaf of bread and 2 packages of oatmeal. Not enough food to get the family through a whole week but we assume they have other sources of food.

The bread is donated by Cobbs bakery through Lionhearts. The rest of the food is purchased at wholesale prices from Deodatos, Grants No Frills and the Wholesale Club.

Going forward, the plan is to run the Isthmus program (5 schools) one week and the Food Sharing Project the next (26 schools) alternating between the two.
Paul Elsley, Rotary Club of Kingston
P.S. Since I first wrote this note, the number of schools and families has gone up.