The Kenora Rotary Club and the Northwestern Health Unit continue to work in partnership to address food and nutrition needs in the community, intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, and now they’re being supported by retired teachers in the area.

The Kenora Rotary Club’s Nutrition on Weekends program has received a $4,000 donation from District 26 of the Retired Teachers of Ontario Union to help grow the program.

“Each small but meaningful step to address child poverty is a gain for the student’s future and for our community. As program volunteers, RTO members also enjoy the opportunity to continue the important work of supporting students in a fundamental way,” says Josie Groen, president, District 26 Kenora.

Nutrition on Weekends began in a 15-week pilot project at King George VI School in 2018, supporting about 17 children who may have difficulties accessing food on a day-to-day basis. It now supports nearly 300 students in local elementary and secondary schools.

Rotarian volunteers purchase and package groceries for each student, and provide them with two breakfasts, two snacks and two lunches each weekend. They’ve continued the program throughout the pandemic with safe delivery methods.

After students didn’t return to school in March,  the Northwestern Health Unit quickly transitioned their school nutrition programs, funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, to programs that could be accessed in the community through community partners.

In Kenora for example, the Student Nutrition Program enhanced the Nutrition on Weekends Program allowed to provide seamless nutrition support in Kenora not just for the weekends, but for every day. And, staff were able to extend this support through July and August, for the first time ever.

Statistics from the Campaign 2000 movement show that roughly 35 per cent of all youth in the Kenora region currently live in poverty, and local school reports from 2019 indicated that roughly 700 meals were served each school day in Kenora.

The District 26 funding is part of RTO’s annual Project – Service to Others. Districts apply for individual projects, education-related or other community initiatives, that support a local, national or international program.

For more information:
Nutrition program for students may include summer months
Rotarians helping end child poverty