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This Cambridge Bay lunch lady feeds about 100 students a day

Five days a week, Kelli Hanson heads to the grocery store, shops for a hundred or so meals, packs her truck with the groceries and drives over to Kiilinik High School in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. That’s when the work really starts.

Kelli Hanson’s lunch program a hit in the community

Kelli Hanson started her grab-and-go lunch program at Kiilinik High School in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut with the help of a federal grant. (Submitted by Kelli Hanson)

Kelli Hanson heads to the grocery store, shops for a hundred or so meals, packs her truck with the groceries and drives over to Kiilinik High School in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.

That's when the work really starts.

With the help of a few of her colleagues and a pair of staff she recently hired, the high school learning coach preps, cooks and bags lunches for anywhere between 75 to 100 students, five days a week.

"It's becoming a big team effort now," she said during an interview with CBC Northwind host Wanda McLeod.

Lunch consists of a rotating main and lots of snacks, like cheese, yogurt, fruit and vegetables. (Submitted by Kelli Hanson)

The grab-and-go bag lunch bag program started prior to the school closing due to COVID-19. Hanson successfully applied for federal funding through the Inuit Child First Initiative.

The school has a "fabulously successful and very well attended" breakfast program, according to Hanson, but because some of the students arrived later in the day, many were unable to take advantage of it.

So she thought it would be nice to have a wider variety available to the kids throughout the day.

The lunches consist of a main dish and snacks, including fruit, vegetables, cheese sticks and yogurt. She said the feedback has been positive.

It just kind of grew into something bigger than I had imagined.- Kelli Hanson

"Everybody has been really supportive, really appreciative," she said.

"It just kind of grew into something bigger than I had imagined."

Then the pandemic hit.

But she didn't let that get in the way. In fact, the program has only expanded.

Hanson partnered with a mental health outreach worker who has been donating food as well.

"So we're actually starting to be able to provide additional lunches to community members," Hanson said.

"The need seems to be very great."

Written by John Van Dusen, with files from Wanda McLeod

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