Silverthorne Elementary has been preparing take home food packages for students. (L-R) Penny Hann, principal Julie Krall and Julie Ridgeway. (Angelique Houlihan photo)

School meals program continue in Houston

Food being packaged up to ensure students have nourishment

  • Apr. 8, 2020 12:00 a.m.

School District 54 administrators and staffers have moved quickly to restore a meal program for its most vulnerable students.

In normal times those students would be benefitting from in-school breakfasts and lunches but now with the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s not possible.

Although schools are now open, they are closed to students, parents and guardians and no instruction is taking place following on a directive issued through the provincial health officer last month.

But, says school district superintendent Mike McDiarmid, strong efforts resulted last week in students being provided a form of a brown bag lunch which are then made available for pick up from schools.

“We already have an idea who our vulnerable students area,” he said as contact was made with parents and guardians to determine need.

“We’ve been taking the advice of Northern Health as to what to provide.”

Providing services for vulnerable students is one of four core principles laid out by provincial education minister Rob Fleming as school districts, their teachers and employees work on resuming instruction.

Silverthorne Elementary’s staffers have been assembling lunch packages of sandwiches or wraps supplemented with fruits and vegetables and, to ensure students have something for breakfast, oatmeal is included, says principal Julie Krall.

“We have amazing staff,” said Krall of the effort being put into assembling and packaging the food for pick up.

In regular times, as many as 70 students out of a school population of 175 students would have breakfast and lunch at the school. The program is open to all and its core foundation is that no one pays.

Last week, the school was providing food packages to 25 families, a number Krall also expects could change as economic circumstances of families change.

Some families whose children ate lunch and breakfast previously have also indicated their circumstances are such that they don’t need the program.

“We’ve asked our families to let us know if their situation does change,” Krall said.

And if this was a normal school time, the program would take in donations of foodstuffs from a wide-ranging support network built up over the years.

But with the school closed to the public, that’s not now possible so the school district itself is covering expenses, Krall said.

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