Close to 100 student nutrition program volunteers–parents, community volunteers and educational professionals–enjoyed an evening of good food and friendship in celebration of their efforts to contribute to the ability of children and youth to be well-nourished and succeed in school.
The annual May event hosted by Brant Food For Thought was held at the Salvation Army Church on Diana Avenue. After a scrumptious buffet dinner catered by Strodes BBQ & Deli, guests were treated to inspiring words by Rick Gamble, student nutrition program coordinator at Princess Elizabeth School “Breakfast Buddies” breakfast program. Gamble has worn many hats in his lifetime. A journalist major by education, he worked across the country in print media and radio, providing local and national stories to media firms like Canada A.M. and CTV National News, specializing in politics, indigenous affairs and human interest stories. Along with his weekly column in the Brantford Expositor, Rick currently teaches journalism at Laurier Brantford and pastors a local independent church. He spoke passionately to the volunteers in the room, applauding their efforts and the difference they make for children and youth in their capacity within student nutrition programs.
Volunteer Development Coordinator, Nancy Walschmidt, presented the roll call of the names of volunteers who have dedicated 5, 10 and 15 plus years to a student nutrition program in their local community. Congratulations to all these volunteers for their exceptional commitment!
Waldschmidt recognized two distinct volunteers who have shown leadership and dedication throughout the school year, and have gone a step beyond what is expected. Speaking of one volunteer, she said, “Best described as “price matching expert”, Erin Hope is a busy volunteer who oversees not one but two programs for a combined total of 406 students, 5 days a week. The children fondly refer to her as the “Snack Lady” and look forward to their snack days.”
Waldschmidt described the second volunteer as, “passionate about their role as student nutrition program coordinator”. The next recognition went to Joyce Dinsmore, an Educational Assistant who has been helping for close to 5 years, in two different schools. Speaking of Joyce, Waldschmidt continued by saying that, “she is dedicated and extremely organized, and has successfully expanded her program from 2 days to 4 days a week with over 200 students. Joyce has partnered with Laurier Brantford students and coordinates their efforts to help prepare and distribute the healthy breakfast choices to the students.”
Congratulations to both Erin and Joyce for their exemplary service and dedication to student nutrition programs!
“This school year, over 475 volunteers have contributed more than 57,000 hours volunteering in a student nutrition program. You have served over one million, one hundred and nineteen thousand meals to over 9,200 students,” expressed Waldschmidt. “If we were to put a dollar figure to that, it would be more than 1 million dollars!” Truly amazing!
The evening would not have been complete without paying special tribute to the volunteers and friends of Brant Food For Thought who have gone on in the past year. Program Director, Gisèle Budgell, addressed the volunteers sharing that ,”Carol Grimster, Scott Johnson and Joseph Lewicki have all contributed to student nutrition programs in their own unique way and we would like to honour their memory this evening.”
Brant Food For Thought contributes the success of student nutrition programs to the volunteers who help menu plan, shop, chop, and distribute healthy snacks and meals to the students every day. From the early risers to the shoppers, the parents, community members, EAs, teachers and secretaries, we say “Thank You”. Budgell concluded the evening with her address to the volunteers. “Giving takes on many different forms. Volunteers–you give the gift of service–touching the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our community–our children and youth.” Budgell continued, “As student nutrition program volunteers and the services you provide, you become the positive force that brings to life our mission statement – you contribute to a child’s ability to learn in school by ensuring that those students get a healthy start and stay nourished during the school day. Thank you seems so inadequate. Whenever I’m called upon to present to the community, I tell people, ‘our volunteers are the heart of this organization.'” Budgell left the audience with a poem about giving by Louis Binsberg:
“Love that is hoarded moulds at last
Until we know some day
The only thing we ever have
Is what we give away.”