Food For thought Asks Cobourg’s Help
By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today
COBOURG – Northumberland Food For Thought provides big benefits to local students on a bare-bones budget.
Representatives Kimberley Leadbeater and Susan Greenwood attended Cobourg Council this week to ask for $300 to assist them with a special project, but first offered some information on the work they do.
The non-profit organization has representation from the health unit, school boards, municipalities, community agencies and the food industry. They work together for a common goal: to promote, assist and support the school-nutrition programs that run locally.
Their fundraising sees 100% of proceeds going to this purpose.
Each school has its army of volunteers (parents, grandparents, community members and even school staff) put on the programs, each organized in a format they believe best serves the students. They range from full meals in the gym to snacks carted to the school in bins.
Each school has its own challenges as well, from volunteer turnover to underfunded programs and limited space.
In Cobourg during the 2014-2015 school year, Leadbeater said, 180,066 meals were provided to students through 13 programs in 10 schools.
These programs are not limited to children in poverty, she said.
“The stigma would be unbearable, and no one would benefit.”
Besides, she said, there are many reasons a child might come to school hungry, from tiny kindergarten students who failed to eat properly before a long bus ride to teenagers who opted to sleep in over getting up for breakfast (not to mention those who have to get to early-morning sports-practice sessions and have no chance to grab a bite).
The benefits of proper nutrition are wide-ranging. Among them, Leadbeater listed, are improved health and academic achievement, promotion of healthy eating habits both in school and at home, increased attendance and class participation, lowered rates of obesity and chronic disease, reduced drop-out rates and improved memory, attendance and test skills in math, science and reading.
Their $300 request is the amount they are asking of all seven Northumberland municipalities to help with an upcoming fundraiser.
A talent show of local performers is planned Oct. 16 at Port Hope’s Cameco Capitol Arts Centre. Cameco has donated the space, but organizers estimate that $2,100 will be needed for promotion and advertising.
If all municipalities chipped in $300, that would be covered. And all proceeds will go into school-nutrition programs that benefit students across the county.
The only question, Councillor Debra McCarthy asked, is where the money might come from. Her motion to have chief administrative officer Stephen Peacock report back on this passed unanimously.