School food boxes support local farmers while helping student nutrition

Food For Kids program distributing 500 food boxes to 48 schools in city and county of Peterborough

Students at Prince of Wales School (Mariah Dalzell, Paige Dalzell, and Sabrina Dalzell) enjoy a healthy snack of local food (photo: Peterborough Public Health)
Students at Prince of Wales School (Mariah Dalzell, Paige Dalzell, and Sabrina Dalzell) enjoy a healthy snack of local food (photo: Peterborough Public Health)

This week as part of Local Food Month this September, the first of more than 500 food boxes featuring local foods made their way to area schools to support student nutrition programs run by Food For Kids.

“Connecting schools with our local food producers not only nourishes students so they learn better, but it teaches them where our food comes from and how important farming is to our community,” said Lauren Kennedy, Public Health Nutritionist with Peterborough Public Health. “It feels great knowing this important program is also benefiting local farms that produce some of the healthiest foods out there.”

Now in its third year, 48 schools in Peterborough City and County received a school food box this week which happens to coincide with Local Food Month, a celebration of local food and the local farm community. Each food box supports school breakfast programs and the ones distributed this week included 20 lbs of apples, 5 lbs of carrots, 2 heads of celery, and a 2.5 lb brick of cheese.

Food is sourced from local growers and producers such as Martin’s Fruit & Vegetable Farm, Allin’s Orchards, and Empire Cheese. RJ’s Fresh Produce packs the boxes and delivers them to schools in the city and county.

Food for Kids aims to include more local food in programming. Since starting the initiative in 2013, breakfast programs have noted a significant impact.

“The school food box helps stretch our food budget so that we can serve a greater variety of healthy food,” said Deb Strain, coordinator and principal from Kawartha Heights Public School. “It saves precious volunteer time, otherwise spent purchasing and driving food to the school. Plus, it allows our program to serve more fruits, vegetables, and cheese to students.”

Research has shown student nutrition programs are a positive way for all students to start their day with the good nutrition they need. In 2015-2016, 588 school food boxes helped to feed breakfasts and snacks to 17,364 students who ate over 2.5 million healthy breakfasts and snacks.

School food boxes delivered 20,470 lbs of Ontario grown and produced food to student nutrition programs. These programs were supported by more than 1,000 volunteers who gave an average of 1,100 hours each week to local programs.

This school food box initiative is made possible by community donations to Food for Kids. If you are interested in volunteering at a breakfast program or making a donation, visit www.FoodforKidsPtbo.ca or call Lauren Kennedy at 705-743-1000 ext. 233.

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