A temporary program of food box deliveries for families of school children in Elgin and St. Thomas is winding down as in-school nutrition programs are expected to resume in September.
Charlotte McDonald of Eat 2 Learn Elgin oversaw the food box drop-off depots and deliveries in Port Burwell, Aylmer, St. Thomas and Dutton on Friday, Sept. 3.
Eat 2 Learn has been providing healthy breakfasts and snacks for children who needed them in most local schools for many years.
But when schools were first shut down 18 months ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program still wanted to ensure that children continuing to learn from home still had the food they needed, she said.
Starting in April 2020, the 125 to 150 food boxes were delivered monthly at first and then later increased to every second Friday.
In September of 2020, when schools re-opened, the delivery program stopped, but resumed in February of this year in response to needs being identified by schools.
Up to 156 food boxes were delivered to from 13 to 18 schools until July, when the delivery program resumed for the summer.
In addition to fresh apples, pears and baked goods donated by Great Lakes Farms, the boxes contain non-perishable foods and grocery gift cards, to allow for the purchase of perishables such as milk, eggs and meat.
Funding from Steelway Building Systems of Springwater, Tim Hortons coffee shops in Aylmer and United Way Elgin Middlesex, as well as private donors, were vital to ensuring the food box deliveries could continue, Ms. McDonald said.
Drop-off spots were in Dutton, St. Thomas, Aylmer and Port Burwell, where families could pick up food boxes themselves, and so could local volunteer delivery drivers.
Ms. McDonald expected in-school nutrition programs would resume in September, but if needed, the food box deliveries might continue on a monthly basis.
She’d been heartened during the school shutdown by the occasional family that stopped by a drop-off point just to tell her they no longer needed help, and to give the food previously destined for them to another family in need.
Rob Perry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express