Community Foundation grant supports prepared food pilot project

June 8, 2022

According to Andy Mills, Executive Director of The Food Sharing Project, the volume of healthy food being ordered by area schools has risen dramatically over the past two years: “We’ve seen the demand for increase by 30 to 40% at many schools, while school staff who coordinate meal and snack programs have no additional time to expand those programs.” 

 

The Food Sharing Project sources healthy food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, that are delivered to schools at no cost, to supply their student nutrition programs. But especially with COVID-19 restrictions, much of the food being provided has switched to items that are in pre-packaged individual portions. School staff who organize in-school student nutrition programs simply don’t have the time to prepare an increasing variety of healthy options.

 

“We wanted to explore the concept of providing pre-made, nutritious meals, like sandwiches or wraps, that would be a nutritionally substantial meal for students, and easy for school staff to serve without having to spend time preparing them.”

 

The Food Sharing Project partnered with Great Lakes Kitchen, an initiative of VOCEC, to prepare meals. VOCEC is an agency of Providence Hospital which employs adults living with mental illness in a variety of jobs, including Great Lakes Kitchen which provides food items to several hospitality sites throughout Kingston.

 

Before committing to a full-scale operation, The Food Sharing Project wanted to run a pilot project. That is where the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area stepped in to help. “We knew there would be an additional cost to purchasing prepared foods, as well as other materials needed to test it out, so we applied for a grant from the Community Foundation.” 

 

The Food Sharing Project received a grant of $10,212 in April 2022 to cover the anticipated additional costs for prepared foods, as well as the purchase of insulated cooler bags to keep food at a safe temperature as it traveled from Great Lakes Kitchen to The Food Sharing Project’s warehouse and on to the pilot schools.

 

Initially six schools received Chicken Ranch Wraps in April. The pilot project was expanded to twelve schools of various sizes and types across KFL&A, and the menu increased to include a Hummus and Veggie Wrap and a Southwestern Pasta Salad. All meals meet the strict Provincial criteria required of student nutrition programs.

 

An early survey showed a positive response from both school staff and students: Students ranked the flavour and freshness at 4.6 out of 5, and school coordinators unanimously agreed that being able to offer prepared foods made their job easier. They all indicated they would

continue to order other prepared foods as more items were added.

 

Some comments from coordinators included “This is truly a wonderful program.” (Clarendon Central PS, Plevna), “The kids are enjoying the wraps. They have been a hit!” (Land O’Lakes PS, Mountain Grove) and “They are a hit at our school students really enjoy them.” (Molly Brant ES, Kingston)

 

“As the school year wraps up, we will be conducting another survey of schools and students. Then we will spend time in the summer analyzing the prepared food pilot project.” The analysis will look at logistics, cost, efficiency, as well as flavour, freshness and other food options.

 

“But to get to this point, it was important to have the support of the Community Foundation. It meant that we didn’t have to take money from our existing food budget to test out something new.”

 

“In the immediate term, it allowed us to offer healthy meals to students, and support school staff, with the added benefit of generating employment for the workers at Great Lakes Kitchen. In the longer term, it has given us the opportunity to test an idea without risk.”

 

 

About The Food Sharing Project

The Food Sharing Project is a local charity and partner of Student Nutrition Ontario, which  delivers 5 tonnes of healthy food – about $20,000 in value – each week to over 80 schools across Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington. For more information, please visit: www.foodsharingproject.org 

 

About the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area

The Community Foundation for Kingston & Area strengthens our community by connecting the generosity of donors with the energy and ideas of people and charities addressing local community needs. Together, we’ve been making meaningful and lasting impacts in our community since 1995. To learn more, please visit: www.cfka.org

 

FSP is hiring for the summer!!

May 4, 2022

The Food Sharing Project will be once again offering food support to families of students who are most in need of healthy food this summer. For 2022, we will be hiring a Summer Food Program Coordinator for July and August to operate the program, which includes working with volunteers, contacting families, managing the database, packing boxes and scheduling deliveries. To see the job posting, click here–> Summer Food Program Coordinator position description

Please Apply by May 16.

Our new website!

December 16, 2021

Since you are here, you’ve probably noticed our brand new website. Thanks to the patient designers at JIC Design, we are pleased to welcome you to our bright updated virtual presence. Please browse and learn about The Food Sharing Project. For our school partners, check out the School Resources section for everything you need to know about running a Student Nutrition Program at your school, and resources to support your work. 

Working together to help families

December 16, 2021

In partnership with Lionhearts and Rotary in Kingston, The Food Sharing Project is helping to support families of students who are struggling by providing weekend food support with a bi-weekly food box. Students already have access to healthy snacks and meals at school thanks to food provided by The Food Sharing Project and organized by a school coordinator. But some students’ families find it difficult to provide healthy food on the weekend at home, especially with the rapidly rising costs of food, plus paying for rent, utilities and gas in the car to get to work.

Volunteers from all three organizations will pack food boxes and deliver them directly to the homes of families who are referred to the program by their school contact. Food boxes will include fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, bread, cheese and other food, intended to offer breakfast and lunch support for the weekends.

The Food Sharing Project would like to acknowledge funding of $45,000 from the Province of Ontario that is being used to purchase food for the new weekend food support program.

Testing pre-made sandwiches in schools

December 16, 2021

In a recent survey, school nutrition program coordinators have told The Food Sharing Project that in many cases, they are scrambling to fit in their healthy snack or meal programs amidst their full-time teaching and support responsibilities. In an effort to help reduce workloads on these coordinators, The Food Sharing Project will be testing pre-made sandwiches in a limited number of schools for the remaining months of the school year.

Wraps and sandwiches will be prepared by Great Lakes Kitchen, an enterprise of the non-profit VOCEC program that provides meaningful employment to adults living with mental illness. Sandwiches will be made from fresh ingredients that meet Provincial nutritional criteria for in-school nutrition programs, and delivered daily to The Food Sharing Project warehouse to be included in deliveries each day.

The Food Sharing Project is seeking additional funding for the pilot phase of this initiative. Schools participating will be providing feedback on taste, freshness, preferences, and logistics – we want to know if students like the food, and if it does indeed save time for nutrition program coordinators.

Other News

Community Foundation grant supports prepared food pilot project

According to Andy Mills, Executive Director of The Food Sharing Project, the volume of healthy food being ordered by area schools has risen dramatically over the past two years: “We’ve seen […]

Read More
FSP is hiring for the summer!!

The Food Sharing Project will be once again offering food support to families of students who are most in need of healthy food this summer. For 2022, we will be […]

Read More
Our new website!

Since you are here, you’ve probably noticed our brand new website. Thanks to the patient designers at JIC Design, we are pleased to welcome you to our bright updated virtual […]

Read More