Brant Food For Thought’s Annual Kick Start meeting ushered in another school year on Wednesday. With close to 100 guests in attendance–school administrators, teachers, parents of school children and community volunteers, food vendors and distributors–all started the day off right by enjoying a great buffet breakfast at the Best Western Plus.
Community Development Coordinator and event organizer, Karen Gibbons, welcomed everyone and expressed her thanks to those involved in supporting student nutrition programs here in Brantford and Brant. “It was only a year ago that I joined the Brant Food For Thought team,” said Gibbons. “This is a completely new role for me but an easy transition mainly due to the fact that you, the program administrators, staff and volunteers are clearly dedicated to ensuring your student nutrition programs are a success, which makes my job of supporting you an easy one.”
Gibbons welcomed two new programs this year: Oakland-Scotland School offering a 2-day a week healthy snack and the Eagle Place After School Program offering healthy snacks 4 days a week.
Keeping nutrition program menus simple by offering high quality whole foods, such as a carton of white milk, a basic banana or carrot sticks, is the best way to steer clear of volunteer burnout. “We’re not a catering service and we’re not providing buffet breakfasts,” continued Gibbons. “High maintenance, Pinterest-type menus take more time to shop for and prepare, and can make it challenging to recruit and retain volunteers, which are key to running successful programs. Try to avoid this temptation and keep it simple”.
Public Health Dietitian, Jen Strome, from the Brant County Health Unit was on hand to expound on the new revised Student Nutrition Program – Nutrition Guidelines, released by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Some revisions include a reclassification of food items into two categories instead of three: Serve and Do Not Serve. With less emphasis on serving size and nutrient specificity, the key message is to move away from processed food choices and lessen intake of added sugar. Getting back to choosing whole foods, such as white milk, fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals are better choices for children and youth.”
Administrators and coordinators from various student nutrition programs received their first installment of food funding. As explained by Program Director, Gisèle Budgell, “your food funding grant this year may be a combination of funding sources: cheque, gift cards and delivered food. The allocation schedule in your package explains the sources and timing of your food funding for this school year.” Brant Food For Thought will be disbursing over $380,000 in food funding, to benefit close to 9,500 children and youth participating in 54 student nutrition programs and receiving over 1.2 million nutritious breakfasts and healthy snacks.
Gibbons shared a few important reminders regarding monthly submission of financial accounting summaries and online web tracker reporting of program data. Programs were encouraged to submit a proposal to the Metro Green Apple Grant program and be eligible to receive $1,000 for their nutrition program. A workshop will be held on October 6 to assist programs in filling out the application.
“We need your stories, quotes and photos”, asked Gibbons, encouraging all programs to share the impact of student nutrition programs in our community. “Be sure to subscribe on our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Keep us informed of your upcoming events.”
Thank you to all the administrators, teachers, parents and community partners and volunteers alike, who help make student nutrition programs happen on a weekly basis. Together, we are supporting children and youth in developing lifelong, healthy nutritional practices and helping ensure they have the bright future they deserve.