LUSELAND – Students and staff of the Luseland School have two new free food programs running at the school this year, supplemental breakfast and hot lunches.
Janine Gourlie, a home economics teacher at the school, had some help when it came to the funding.
“Three staff members applied for the Mosaic School Nutrition Challenge — Anita Phillips, Alicia Gardeski and Cathy Kerr. We were one of 10 schools awarded the grant of $15,000,” says Gourlie.
Once the grant was received, a committee was formed with a mix of school staff and parents. Plans on how to use the money and develop the nutrition programs were focused on and Gourlie took the lead with the supplemental breakfast and hot lunch programs.
“Staff saw that some students were struggling to get a decent breakfast, even from those who have a longer bus ride than others. We knew we needed to help.”
With nutrition education being a new venture for the school, Gourlie has seen how it is creating opportunities for all students.
“Last year the high school students that took Practical and Applied Arts (PAA) built garden boxes with Mr. Hagel. Mrs. Starling, the Grade 3/4 teacher was able to source a donation of sand for the boxes from the RM of Progress and Grade 5/6 teacher Teri Scheidt and husband Darcy donated the soil to finish filling the boxes,” Gourlie says.
She adds that between some of the elementary grades and her PAA Home Ec. classes, students next year will be planting and growing fresh produce.
Gourlie also started organizing the hot lunch program, which runs once a month, with help from the Grade 10-12 Home Ec. students.
“Students that would like to take part in the hot lunch program will need to pre-order a week prior so that the older grades and I have time to prepare for the day.”
Some of the grant money was also used to upgrade equipment in the home economics labs.
“We went through all our equipment and took inventory of what we felt needed to be replaced. We lost a few wobbly pots and pans as a result,” said Gourlie.
The most impressive program so far has been the breakfast program, which has been operational daily after the Thanksgiving weekend.
“We have had a mix of community, parent and staff volunteers. The Luseland Credit Union staff have stepped up to volunteer three shifts a week and the Delta Co-op has given us a monetary donation to help with replenishing our groceries. Stephan and Lindsay Dewald donated a fridge,” adds Gourlie.
With the launch of the new program, close to the whole school came out to get a taste of what was available. Gourlie says now that the excitement has passed, they have on average 50 students who benefit from the program daily.
Gourlie also adds that each day of the week is a different type of breakfast, allowing students to get a variety of food groups.
Gourlie and other staff at the school have seen already first-hand the outcome of having a full belly has helped the students. “Those who were hungry in the mornings now have the ability to focus on their schoolwork, not how hungry they are.”
Plans are already in the works for the future of these programs. Gourlie is looking at opportunities to get other local businesses involved. “We are always willing to accept monetary or supplies donations along with anyone who would like to help volunteer in the mornings.”
Volunteers can sign up at www.tinyurl.com/luselandbreakfast or by calling the school at 306-372-4222.
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