Grande Prairie Schools Snack Program
Every day in Grande Prairie, children and youth go hungry while in school. Since February 2003, the Grande Prairie Schools Snack Program has recognized the need for nutritious snacks to alleviate hunger and educate children about healthy lifestyle choices. Children come to school hungry for a variety of reasons; parents who leave early for work are not home to supervise breakfast choices, early boarding of a bus to school, and family financial distress. By providing children who are hungry with a nutritious breakfast, morning snack, and lunch, it is proven that students increase their literacy rate, can better stay on task, have fewer behavior problems and understand the basics of nutrition and healthy eating.
Monday through Friday, The Snack Program currently provides to those in need a healthy morning breakfast, fresh fruit midmorning snack, and a nutritious emergency bag lunch to 3 schools; St. Clement, St. Patrick and St. Joseph High School.. No child is denied access to food. The 3 schools were specifically chosen based on the population of mid to low income status families, aboriginal families (30%) and the high level of single parent homes. In addition to feeding children, the importance of education to influence a healthy lifestyle and bring about change of eating habits is recognized. Resources and monthly newsletters produced by Alberta Health Services, Healthy U, and other publishers are used as teaching tools for students and parents.
One Snack Coordinator, one Food Service Provider, 2 School Site Leaders, and numerous volunteers ensure the Snack Program operates each school day from September to June. Menu preparation, food orders, food transportation, and the daily food preparation and distribution is done with care and attention. All Snack Program staff are trained in food preparation, and all school kitchen sites comply with current health standards and inspections. A data base of students with allergies and dietary restrictions is maintained. Based on evaluations from school staff, students and parents, The Snack Program performs a critical and valued service in each of the 3 schools. Whenever financial means are available we offer our program’s help to other schools within our District. The Snack Program will continue with its current structure until more funding for additional schools is secured. Collaboration with local businesses for a dedicated Snack Program van, bulk food orders and food delivery is key to maintaining the Snack Program's $70,000 annual budget. Financial donations are acquired from local, provincial and national levels of donors.