COVID-19: School-based lunch programs expand to feed thousands during crisis

SD61 and community partners provide meals to 1,000 families per week

With the help of community partners, the Greater Victoria School District is providing about 10,000 weekly meals to vulnerable families during the COVID-19 crisis. (Twitter/SD61)

With classes suspended at schools across Greater Victoria, some students are missing out on more than learning – many are going hungry without school-provided meal programs.

With the help of community partners, the Greater Victoria School District (SD61) is now providing roughly 10,000 weekly meals to vulnerable families by setting up distribution zone hubs at schools across the region.

In a statement, Board Chair Jordan Watters said the program was implemented to help families hit hard by food insecurity and the social, emotional and financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Greater Victoria schools to spend next two weeks planning next steps “Our staff and local partners have ramped up their efforts to ensure full continuity of our food service program,” Watters said. “Adequate nutrition is necessary to support positive education and health outcomes, and we are committed to supporting our families in this way.”

More than 1,000 families are receiving meals every week, but with physical distancing in place, only one designated family member stops by each week to pick up the food.

SD61 says the food distribution program is made possible through the Ministry of Education Community Link Funding, the Victoria Foundation’s Rapid Relief Fund and partnerships with the Food Share Network and local restaurants.

“It’s inspiring to see how the generosity of residents in our region is so quickly being turned into on-the-ground support for those who need it most right now,” said Victoria Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson in a statement. “To have the school district step up and help out in this way is something we’re proud to support.”

SD61 says it plans to expand the service as more food and funding become available and to start including fresh produce in meals.

READ ALSO: ‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

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