Waterloo region nutrition program finds way to feed kids during pandemic

Nutrition for Learning normally provides food for 140 schools in Waterloo region. But now it's delivering packages to nourish kids while they're out of the classroom. 

Nutrition for Learning normally brings food inside 140 schools but now it's making outdoor drop-offs

Derek Wallace, one of the drivers for Nutrition for Learning, helps deliver food to King Edward Public School in Kitchener. (Julianne Hazlewood/CBC)

The day starts early for a team of drivers and volunteers delivering hundreds of brown paper bags full of snacks.

Nutrition for Learning normally provides food for 140 schools in Waterloo region. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's delivering packages to nourish kids while they're out of the classroom. 

The "pop-up" deliveries are happening outside of local schools while they're shut down.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has said public schools are currently scheduled re-open to teachers on May 1 at the earliest and to students on May 4.

Tania Moser says she's seeing more people come out to the food delivery sites every day. (Julianne Hazlewood/CBC)

Tania Moser, who provides program support for Nutrition for Learning, says donations from the community and the program's general funds have kept it running during the pandemic. 

The program started delivering food during March break and since then "it's basically blown up," Moser said. The team CBC Kitchener-Waterloo interviewed delivered 180 food packages in one day and that's just one of the organization's three routes.

Addison Wise donated a box of cheese and crackers when the truck stopped near her school. (Julianne Hazlewood/CBC)

Addison Wise was the first person who walked over to the delivery truck when it stopped at A.R. Kaufman Public School.

Although Nutrition for Learning mostly operates on monetary donations, the team gladly accepted the snack box she proudly handed over. 

Romeo Roblero says the snacks are a big help in feeding his eight kids. (Julianne Hazlewood/CBC)

Romeo Roblero owns his own company, but is off work during the shutdown in Ontario. He says it's much easier to feed his eight kids when he's working.

"If I don't have a place [like this], I don't know what can I do."

Brenda, Grace and Benjamin Prins pick up snack bags for the first time. (Julianne Hazlewood/CBC)

Brenda, Grace and Benjamin Prins live down the street from King Edward Public School, one of the locations where the team dropped off food packages earlier this week. They said they made the walk over a nice morning outing.

The team makes sure to practise physical distancing while handing out the snack bags. The items change from day to day, and every family gets one bag per child. (Julianne Hazlewood/CBC)

Moser says even if it's just one loaf of bread, food "can bring the whole family together."

"I think now more than ever ... being able to share a cheese string or yogurt tube with your child and kind of talk about what's going on, I think it gives a great sense of community and togetherness and normalcy," Moser said.


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