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Nutrition for Learning offers healthy food options for students studying online

Beginning Jan. 5, Nutrition for Learning will offer a Community Nutrition Program with ‘universal access’ to families who can use nutritional food items at home
2022 0104 Nutrition for Learning BG 2
Nutrition for Learning will offer the Community Nutrition Program beginning Jan. 5.

While schools remain closed and students return online, Nutrition for Learning will offer a Community Nutrition Program with ‘universal access’ to families who can use nutritional food items at home.

The program begins Jan. 5 as a loaded truck, containing healthy food options, makes its way to schools across Waterloo Region.

“We are very fortunate to be able to offer this,” says O’Neil Edwards, executive director at Nutrition for Learning.

“We decided a long time ago, that we had to make sure that there was a Plan B in place to recognize the needs in the community. We did this last year, and it was also a great opportunity for teachers, parents and students to see each other as they got in line to grab some healthy snacks.”

About 93 per cent of schools in Waterloo Region take part in the program, and Edwards says that plans are underway to make sure all rural schools are included.

“We are working on a plan to make specific schools in rural areas, to be central pick-up locations,” Edwards says.

“Volunteers will be on the road with prepackaged bags ready for pick-up.”

Bags include a variety of healthy foods including yogurt, apple sauce, fruit, popcorn, cheese strings, and boiled eggs.

Nutrition for Learning is working in partnership with Changing the Flow, a social enterprise dedicated to the achievement of menstrual equity.

“Feminine hygiene products or “period packs” will also be available. These items can be very expensive for families,” Edwards said.

“During the holidays, families have had to make some tough choices. We do what we can for our families. We want to help families to not have to make those tough choices when it comes to being able to offer nutritious food.”

Nutrition for Learning offers universal access student nutrition programs in schools across Waterloo Region.

The registered charitable organization says that the healthy food programs impact the physical, cognitive, behavioral, and academic needs of children and youth throughout Waterloo Region.

Established in 1997, Nutrition for Learning supports over 150 student programs within the Waterloo Region District School Board, the Waterloo Region Catholic District School Board, and the French Language Public School Board.

“We are all about healthy snacks at school but right now, it’s a difficult time for kids as they begin learning from home and without their friends. We want to make sure they have healthy and nutritious food while they learn,” Edwards said.

“It really makes a difference for many families.”

Edwards says volunteers will be on hand to help and safety measures including physical distancing will be practiced at each school at the time of pick-up.

“Anyone can take what they want,” Edwards said.

“It’s about students having universal access. That’s what it’s all about.”

For more information about Nutrition for Learning and to find the school schedule for the Community Nutrition Program, visit https://www.nutritionforlearning.ca/community_nutrition/