FILE - Mustard Seed runs a 46-bed sober shelter, soup kitchen, school lunch program, and health centre in Riverside Meadows. (Photo by Advocate staff)

FILE - Mustard Seed runs a 46-bed sober shelter, soup kitchen, school lunch program, and health centre in Riverside Meadows. (Photo by Advocate staff)

School lunch program feeding more students in Red Deer and central Alberta

‘Kids can’t learn if they’re hungry’

Demand for Mustard Seed’s school lunch program jumped from about 6,400 to 10,000 lunches per month in the last three months.

Laura Giesbrecht, director of operations, said the drastic rise likely has to do with the rising cost of food and gasoline for people who were barely making ends meet before inflation soared.

“It’s already increased by over 3,000 lunches per month. If prices continue to rise, we have no way of predicting what our needs will be in the fall,” Giesbrecht said.

And she is worried about what will happen to those students in the summer when schools are closed.

“We’ve worked hard with the city, and local school boards, for the last three years. We haven’t found the solution yet.”

Related:

More people visiting The Mustard Seed soup kitchen

The program serves 46 schools in Red Deer, Sylvan Lake, Innisfail, Bowden, Delburne and Elnora. Each nutritious lunch contains a freshly made sandwich, a serving of both fruit and vegetables, and a snack like a granola bar. Schools can also request additional snacks for students to take home or to supplement their lunches.

Giesbrecht said the increase in demand is across all grades.

“Proper nutrition just sets everyone up for success. Kids can’t learn if they’re hungry.”

Related:

Mustard Seed Red Deer delivers 348 Thanksgiving dinners to families in need

Mustard Seed just announced its Children & Youth Campaign to help raise money for the school lunch program, and its other programs, that address inter-generational poverty.

Donations in support of the Children & Youth Campaign will be matched up to 50 per cent by Shaw Birdies for Kids, presented by AltaLink, until August 31.

Giesbrecht said the campaign is an opportunity to raise awareness about the lunch program which is so important to a lot of students.

“I think people would be surprised at the numbers in our city, and surrounding areas, of kids that don’t have access to good nutrition.”



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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