With layoffs and economic hardship impacting people due to COVID-19, Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation has made changes to how it gets food to students.
While the non-profit previously made weekly food deliveries to schools for students in need via school meal programs, coronavirus precautions have suspended in-class instruction indefinitely. The foundation is now distributing weekly food hampers to students as well as those affected by the pandemic, says Crystal Dennison, foundation executive director.
“With COVID-19, things have changed for families that may not have had to use the service before, but we want to make sure it’s available to those students as well … there’s financial implications of what’s going on for a lot of families,” said Dennison. “The reality is there’s been a lot of people laid off. A lot of people have lost their jobs and so we anticipate that there will be more students that will be affected by that.”
She said the foundation is building a weekly schedule for distribution of food to schools. Food is sourced by both Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank, as well as the foundation, and sorted at John Barsby Secondary School.
“It’s being delivered to students and we have some of the school district staff [that] have been reallocated,” said Dennison. “The child youth care workers are doing deliveries.”
In her Wednesday address, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C. health officer, said there were 81 COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island and Dennison said safety of all involved is a top priority.
“We have a safety protocol in place taking into consideration regular hand-washing, hand sanitization and spatial distancing … we have appropriate signage,” said Dennison. “We do orientations to make sure that everybody involved is well aware of the safety precautions and then we’re all just reminding each other to keep our distance. That we need to all take care of ourselves in this.”
Donations are being accepted at www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/nanaimo-ladysmith-schools-foundation/campaign/food4schools/, with $25 able to feed a student for a week, according to the foundation.