Going hungry at schools around Taber is being mitigated through a new program providing lunches for students in need. Gill Younie, project director of Healthy Heroes, spoke on just what this program is and what they’re looking to do.
“Healthy Heroes is basically we use Parallel Church to make our lunches and then we have them out to the different schools, and they’re nutritious,” said Younie. “Sandwiches, fruit, granola bar, yogurt, things of that nature. We got a grant from the Alberta Government so MyCityCare, Parallel Church, Horizon School Division, Holy Spirit School Division applied for a grant, and then they asked me to run the program as the program director. It’s a three year grant with different levels to it, so right now it’s food.”
In the current form of this program there are four individuals who are making and delivering these lunches at a time. Younie then discussed why it is important to ensure that these kids receive these nutritional lunches and who they are for.
“Anybody who needs them, because there’s kids after school that may not have a big enough lunch so they grab it before basketball practice, a basketball game, or something. They are handed out to some kids. Teach- ers do slide them to some kids on the weekend that they know might not have lunches for stuff for the weekend. They’ll put them in their bags on a down-low type of thing. We don’t want the child to feel singled out so teachers know, the principal knows. They’re trying to do it as discreetly as possible so the kid doesn’t feel put out of place.”
Younie also commented on the demand that they are currently seeing in the first year of this program by discussing just how many lunches they are producing a week.
“We are doing over 200 a week right now. The first day was Jan. 25 and it’s still ramping up, but right now we’re doing 200 to 220 lunches a week. It’s getting busier and busier. I went to a school today and I had extra ones and when I came back to the same school they were all gone. The more people that hear about it we’re probably going to be doing 350 lunches.”
Additionally Younie also spoke on what the future of this program could be, and the plans that they have for it come summertime.
“Year one is getting lunch in the school and we want to have a food trailer for the summer but we want to be able to sustain that through the summer. Park it at, say, Central School and we’ll have it out on social media so kids can come by if they need a lunch. Then there is getting into the schools. There’s a whole bunch of different things to it. Teaching kids about nutrition and teaching kids about why lunches are important.”
This program is something that the community can also help with by donating food to be used and making lunches for students.
“We’re always looking for food donations,” said Younie. “If somebody got a big ham and can’t use all of it, we can slice it up and make sandwiches with it or extra bread, or granola bars, or yogurt or things like that, we’re always looking for stuff that we can turn around and give to the kids. Puddings and candy are not suitable for the program because we’re trying to make sure these kids are healthy.”
The superintendent of learner services for Horizon School Division, Terri-Linn Duncan, also provided a comment on this program.
“I just think it’s a great opportunity for students and our community,” said Duncan. “I’m looking forward to working with Parallel Church and Gill.”
By Ian Croft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Feb 22, 2023