F.E. Madill snack program seeking assistance

WINGHAM – Lisa Jackson, teacher and snack program coordinator at F.E. Madill Secondary School, is seeking additional help with the food program.

A recent letter from Jackson to service clubs in the area said, “The Snack Program at F.E. Madill Secondary School has grown substantially from its meager beginnings over 10 years ago. The goal of the program is to make nutritious food easily accessible to all of our students throughout the school day and I am happy to report that we have been very successful in reaching this goal.”

Due to the pandemic and the resulting changes in how the program was delivered, the food program now needs additional community support.

“While the program used to be offered out of a central location in the school, the program has grown during the pandemic period so that food can be available in each classroom,” said Jackson. “This change was necessary earlier in the pandemic in light of COVID-19 rules to minimize mixing of cohorts, etc. As such, the use of the program has grown incrementally and we are finding ourselves in need of more funding to help keep this program going at its current level of use.”

Jackson spoke about the ongoing struggles the community continues to face and how the volunteers have used the snack program funds to purchase and deliver groceries or gift cards to their families in need.

“While we cannot predict what this current school year will bring,” Jackson said, “I do feel that the program will continue to grow and be well-used by our student population.”

Jackson hopes local service organizations like the Independent Motorcycle Club (MC) can help the high school raise funds to keep the community youth and children fed at school and home.

Members of the Independent MC received the request from the school. Although they have yet to begin their 2023 fundraising campaign, they could still provide the snack program with $1,000 in emergency funding.

Jackson thanked the current donors who have helped the food program, including Fresh Wind Revival Centre, Brussels Optimist Club, the Tim Hortons Smile Cookie Campaign, and President’s Choice Children’s Charity, on top of the base funding provided through Student Nutrition Ontario.

“While this provided us with enough funds to meet our program’s needs in the past,” Jackson said.

“We are now seeing a growth in spending of approximately $400-500 per month compared to past years and our program continues to grow.”

A recent “Be Well” survey of the approximately 700 students at Madill showed that 60 per cent of those who participated indicated that they did not eat breakfast before arriving at school.

“Life is busier than ever for families and many of our students get ready on their own in the morning. Having nutritious food available throughout the school day has been shown to help increase student achievement, behaviour, concentration, and physical health,” said Jackson.

Teachers and staff are encouraged to promote the food program to all pupils so that no student, regardless of their financial status, feels any shame in accessing food when needed.

“Our motto is ‘Feed the Brain,’ I hope you are able to join us in our mission,” Jackson said.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times