Organizations band together in Moncton to replace school nutrition program

About 450 bagged lunches are now delivered throughout the week in the Moncton region, a replacement for school breakfast and lunch programs halted by the pandemic. 

The lunches are prepared Monday through Friday and driven on five buses to 19 drop-off points in Moncton, Riverview, Dieppe and Salisbury.

It's a joint effort by the United Way, Moncton Headstart, Moncton Boys and Girls Club, Riverview Boys and Girls Club, Food Depot Alimentaire and the Anglophone School District East. 

"If you have kids who usually ate their lunch at school, or breakfast and lunch at school, and now you have kids home, and they're young and you have two or three children, it's really hard to get to a food bank or access the food you may need," said Debbie McGinnis, CEO of the United Way Greater Moncton and Southeastern New Brunswick.

McGinnis said the program is also important to help continue a person's connection to the broader community, even when social distancing. 

Submitted/Debbie McGinnis

The lunch program launched last Thursday and sees lunches prepared in the morning, loaded onto buses owned by the various organizations, and dropped off over the lunch hour in various neighbourhoods by teams of two volunteers. 

"We just go to the areas where we think the need might be the greatest or people will be able to access easily," McGinnis said. "And what we've seen is it's growing."

Those locations include parks in Moncton where 15 lunches were set to be handed out at each spot on Wednesday, according to a notice from the school district sent to parents this week.

  • Westbrook Circle Park at 11:45 a.m. 
  • White Frost Village Park at 12:15 p.m.
  • Marsh Street Park at 12:45 p.m.

The lunches include a sandwich, yogurt, a granola bar and fruit. The food is provided by Food Depot Alimentaire.

McGinnis said funding that had been allocated for school breakfast or lunch programs that are no longer running because of school closures is being used to help cover costs.

She said anyone looking to help with the effort can donate to  Food Depot Alimentaire.

Submitted/Paul Toner

The lunches are prepared at two high schools and at Inspiration Cafe at the Peace Centre in downtown Moncton. 

The work uses social distancing and hand hygiene, McGinnis said, to keep volunteers and those receiving the lunches safe. 

McGinnis said they're hoping to ramp up production and distribution to serve 600 to 700 per day by the end of the week. 

She said they plan to provide a bit more food with the Friday lunches to help with the weekend, since the program only runs Monday to Friday.