LCSD uses nutrition grant for lunch programs

By Jessica Dempsey

October 3, 2017 3:26 PM

Lisa Townsend, lunch program coordinator, makes 123 lunches for children five days a week at Mother Teresa Early Childhood Education Centre as part of a nutrition grant LCSD was granted this year. Jessica Dempsey/Meridian Booster

Earlier in the year, the Alberta Government announced their school nutrition program was going province-wide, and it can be seen right at home.

The Lloydminster Catholic School Division (LCSD) was recently awarded a nutrition grant, which has allowed them to implement a lunch program at Mother Teresa Early Childhood Education Centre and Father Gorman Community School.

“The lunch program is a great opportunity to serve students a lunch containing four food groups, five days a week. We know in Alberta that one-in-five children are hungry. So, this is an opportunity for children to have a healthy lunch,” said Alison Fulkerth, community education coordinator, LCSD.

The government rolled out the nutrition programs last year with 14 school boards participating. This year, the remaining 46 school boards in the province received $141,000 in grant funding to implement the program.

Students receive foods containing meat, grain, dairy, and fruits and vegetables.

“We follow the Alberta Child Nutrition Guidelines, which are very strict. So, everything that we serve is from the ‘choose most often’ category,” said Fulkerth.

The program benefits the students, but Fulkerth noted it is also a big benefit to parents.

“Even as a parent, you have the opportunity that if sometimes you are missing a yogurt or something, knowing that if a student did bring a lunch and they just needed to add to it, they could. Or, if they knew they were short that month, it is okay they know their child was going to get a lunch,” said Fulkerth.

This new program is also a good learning tool for children.

“It’s a great opportunity for the teachers to bring healthy lunches and to talk about it in the classroom, because there is a whole learning component of healthy nutrition we hope will carry over to the home later in life,” she said.

While it’s only been two weeks of the program being implemented, Fulkerth said it was going well.

“I think it’s been going great. It’s running smoothly,” she said.

At Mother Teresa, there are 123 students participating in the program, which is nearly all of the students.

At Father Gorman, there are also more than 120 students in that program, and Mother Teresa principal Sheila Jurke, said those high numbers were expected.

“What parent would not want to have a lunch provided for their child. If you don’t have to pack a lunch, it’s certainly a cost saver for your family, and a time saver. So, we do have a majority of our students involved in our lunch program, but of course, they are still welcome to pack their own lunches,” she said.

The students at Mother Teresa are younger than some other schools, so the lunches were kept very simple. 

“Nothing too fancy, but high-quality, healthy nutritious lunches, which includes bags of vegetables, sandwiches, and yogurt,” said Jurke.

Jurke said the exciting thing was students have now been trying new foods they wouldn’t have eaten at home.

“Parents have even said ‘I’m really impressed my student tried that today, because at home they wouldn’t eat it.’ An example would be brown bread,” she said.

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