Program helping to take a bite out of hunger
Canada may be a First World country, but the sad truth is that even in the Cowichan Valley there are kids who show up at school with empty stomachs, and empty lunchbags.
But Good Bite Lunch, with the help of local individuals and businesses, hopes to change that with its lunch sponsorship program.
Through the Good Bites website, Cowichanians can purchase a healthy meal that's delivered to a local child's school.
Right now, Good Bites owners Tina Vander Veen and Laurie Arbuthnot are working with Khowhemun Elementary School.
"We deliver between two and four (sponsored) lunches every day," Vander Veen said.
Sponsorship is $5.99 per day for one child. The lunches themselves consist of a healthy meal including snacks.
"They're well-balanced, healthy meals that work out to be around 550 calories," Vander Veen said.
Last Monday, for example, lunch consisted of a burrito made with whole wheat tortilla shell, organic beans and cheddar cheese, plus organic carrot sticks, cucumbers and peppers with homemade ranch dip, a fruit salad, and a homemade chocolate chip cookie made from 80-per-cent organic ingredients.
"We try to choose the healthiest options possible," said Vander Veen. "And we try not to have any additives or preservatives interfering in our foods."
The Good Bite owners hope that as word spreads about the lunch sponsorship program, they'll be about to reach more kids in Cowichan.
"There are 40 kids a day at Khowhemun that come to school with nothing — and that's just one school," said Vander Veen. "It shouldn't be that way. Every child should have lunch. They're at school to learn all day long, and I don't know how they can focus when they don't have anything in their tummies.
"We're trying very hard to get the community and local businesses to help us help them."
Good Bites sponsors one lunch per day as a business, and discounts the cost of its sponsored lunches for those donating a meal (parents purchasing the service for their own children pay $6.49).