New school food fund helping feed students in Nova Scotia

By Steve Gow

A local organization has created a special fund that hopes to provide access to healthy food at school for kids.

Registered non-profit Nourish Nova Scotia has launched a special School Food Fund that will distribute resources to participating public schools according to need and enrollment numbers.

As Nourish Nova Scotia recognizes, the return to school in September can be challenging for many families. With such expenditures as school supplies, new clothes and extracurricular activities, the costs can be difficult to manage. Then, there is the price of skyrocketing inflation.

“We have been, amongst many people, raising concerns about the impact of inflation on school food budgets,” says Nourish Nova Scotia executive director, Lisa Roberts. She adds although they were able to distribute additional funds courtesy of the federal government, that revenue was tied into the pandemic.

“This year, we don’t know that any such funding is coming (and) we know that people want to help and we’re just a very well-placed organization to distribute support from Nova Scotians — be it individuals or organizations.”

As a result, Nourish Nova Scotia started the School Food Fund — a donation channel through which people can help to ensure that kids get the nourishment they need during the challenging year ahead.

A longtime partner to the provincial school system, Nourish Nova Scotia supports school food programming in several ways. 

From “kid-tested” recipes for cafeteria workers, to volunteer training and lessons in gardening, the organization is the ideal candidate to distribute donations to school food programs across the province.

“We’re a charitable organization and we have regular donors that we’re very grateful for, but our general donations to Nourish have not been specifically about supporting school food — they have been about supporting our programs,” says Roberts.

“We felt at this time, it made sense to really create a targeted fund that we would commit to distributing to our school partners in the public education system.”

In addition to the School Food Fund, Nourish has also launched its successful Nourish Your Roots program for this school year. That program has raised nearly half a million dollars for school food programs over the past half-decade while also generating revenue for local farmers.

As part of the program, local farmers are paid a “fair price” for boxes of fresh produce that are then sold to the greater community with proceeds going towards schools. As a result, customers get to enjoy fresh, locally grown produce, farmers earn a fair wage for their hard work and school programs get the support they need to continue providing healthy food options for students.

“Ninety-two schools, including some non-profit private schools and non-profit child care centres, have signed up to participate,” says Roberts, who comes to Nourish Nova Scotia following a five-year stint as MLA for Halifax Needham. “It’s a fundraising program that we offer to them and then we facilitate it.”

Those who are interested in purchasing a Nourish Your Roots box of produce can access the program through the organization’s online store.  For under $40, people can buy a 20 to 25 pound box that contains a variety of up to ten types of vegetables, fruit or herbs.

“Ten dollars per box goes to a school that is participating,” says Roberts. “From a drop down menu, people can choose the school that they want to benefit from their purchase or they can choose no preference — in which case we’ll work with our education partners to allocate those dollars to where they deem them the most needed.”

For more information on Nourish Nova Scotia’s programs, visit their website.

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