Red Deer mom Adrienne Gadsby cooks a hot lunch for students in need at Oriole Park Elementary School once a month. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Mom who makes hot lunches once a month for needy students receives award

A Red Deer mom has been busting some students’ hunger for about four years. Once every month, she cooks a hot lunch for students in need at Oriole Park Elementary School.

Asked what motivates her, Adrienne Gadsby says with a chuckle that she loves to cook.

Gadsby received a Friends of Education Award from Red Deer Public Schools at the district’s recognition night on Thursday for sharing her cooking with students.

About five or six years ago, Gadsby was a school lunchroom supervisor. In her part-time role, Gadsby realized there are about 400 children in Red Deer who don’t get a proper meal at school.

That number is too high, Gadsby said Thursday.

“Anything higher than zero is too high,” she said.

She suspects the number of students who go hungry might be higher than 400, because there may be some families who are too proud to ask for help.

“I think it’s horrible that people go hungry, and it’s horrible that children go hungry.”

During her volunteer work at the Oriole school, she has seen the number of students who go hungry fluctuate. It currently sits at 11. In the past, that number has varied from about seven to 16.

As the mom of two children, one at Oriole and another at Central Middle School, she knows students can’t focus on school work if they’re hungry.

The school division says Gadsby works tirelessly to ensure no child goes hungry and has the best opportunities to learn.

She has made tacos, spaghetti, chicken noodle soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and hotdogs and fries for students. There have also been times when she has ordered pizza. Her hot lunches come with fruit or vegetables on the side, as well as a juice box and a treat.

The 38-year-old said her efforts wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for her friends and family and the wider community. With their help, Gadsby conducts bottle drives and accepts donations to make the hot lunches possible.

The monthly meals cost approximately $40 for 11 students.

The Red Deerian encourages the community to donate to the food bank and organizations such as the Mustard Seed, so it can continue its school lunch programs.

The Red Deer Mustard Seed also received a Friends of Education Award Thursday evening.

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