City Centre Mirror
While summer for many brings vacationing, swimming pools and sunbathing, for a large number of children in Toronto, it can also bring hunger.
Many schools offer lunch programs, but when school is out, the kids who make use of those services can be precluded from attending summer camps because their families cannot ensure they have a healthy lunch to bring with them every day.
To help fill that need, the Sodexo Foundation and Second Harvest have banded together to form Feeding Our Future, a program that ensures children in at-risk communities will have a healthy meal at day camps. The program was founded by the Sodexo Foundation in 2000 and has seen volunteers deliver 750,000 lunches to children across Canada.
On Wednesday, July 18, about 250 children attending downtown day camps gathered at Lord Dufferin Junior and Senior Public School for a celebration of the Feeding Our Future program.
Those children enjoyed barbecued food, watermelon, cookies and more as well as participated in basketball and hockey clinics put on by the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs organizations, with former Raptors star Alvin Williams helping out with the former.
Sodexo spokesperson Michelle Porteous said the program fits in with her company’s goal of putting an end to hunger.
“During the school, these kids have lunch programs at their schools, so we wanted to bring lunch programs to camps,” she said. “We started in Toronto and now we’re in nine cities across the country.”
Typical Feeding Our Future meals include sandwiches, carrot and celery sticks, cookies and juice.
Jo-Anne Sobie of Second Harvest said the program helps bridge the gap between many children in at-risk communities and children in more well-to-do communities.
“A lot of kids aren’t sent to camp because they have nothing to take with them for lunch,” she said. “How can they play, how can they recreate, if they’re not fed?”
While the barbecued lunch, which included hamburgers, halal meat burgers, veggie burgers and more, was a hit among the 250 children who attended the event, there was little doubt the day offered more to the kids than that.
“I think it’s pretty cool all the stuff there is to do here,” said 12-year-old John Innes Community Recreation Centre camp-goer Adam Nortmann after participating in the basketball clinic. “It’s really cool that they have the basketball van here and we get to play.”
Fellow John Innes CRC camp-goer Finn Komai, 11, was equally impressed with the activities and the food, and was particularly happy to see the Maple Leafs’ and Raptors’ mascots out playing with the kids.
“It’s a really nice day outside and I liked seeing the Raptor (mascot) doing all kinds of cool stunts,” Komai said. “The food looks pretty good and smells pretty good, too.”