Maple Leaf Foods Fund provides hunger support for local organizations

Jul. 14, 2015

Everyone has the right to a standard of living that allows for optimal health and well-being. However, a number of Londoners lack a very key aspect of health and well-being; food security. According to the World Health Organization, “food security is when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” Food security can be a complex issue, but the simplicity of the matter is, the London community must work together to support those who cannot afford or do not have access to this basic necessity of life. Statistics demonstrate that 15.2% of Londoner’s are living below the poverty line. Those in poverty are at a higher risk of food insecurity. EVERYONE deserves to have access to food.

Growing Chefs!The Maple Leaf Foods Fund, a fund within London Community Foundation, was established in 1994 in honour of Harvey and Erma Beaty. The fund, provides capital grants towards food security programs with a focus on sustainable, long-term solutions and empowerment. The London Community Foundation in partnership with Oxford Community Foundation, determines eligible applicants in the Middlesex and Oxford regions that fit into one of the following food security categories; food literacy, school and other nutrition programs and initiatives beyond a conventional food bank model to empower people to live well with better access to nutritious food. Funding for this year’s grant totaled $41,400 and focused on supporting school programs and programs that serve school students. The three organizations that were awarded a capital grant included Investing in Children receiving $24,320, Oxford County Nutrition receiving $12,000 and Growing Chefs! Ontario receiving $5,080.

Investing in Children works with the community to improve the lives of children and their families. Investing in Children supports 88 school based nutrition programs across London and Middlesex County. Investing in Children acknowledges that there is no question that school based nutrition programs are making a huge difference in the lives of thousands of children. Research has shown that students who start their day with nutritious food do better academically, find it easier to concentrate on tasks , have fewer discipline problems and most importantly are fueling their bodies while learning about proper nutrition. The funding request was for kitchen infrastructure from twenty-four schools in London and Middlesex. The infrastructure ranged from a new freezer to pluming.

Oxford County Nutrition Partnership coordinates school nutrition programs in Oxford County with the goal of having all children and youth attend school well-nourished and ready to learn. The organization also requested funding for infrastructure. The requested infrastructure supported twelve different schools and ranged from blenders to a stove. The infrastructure will help ensure that the schools are able to adequately cook, serve and store food.

Growing Chefs! Ontario offers educational, hands-on cooking experiences guided by a professional chef to children, youth and their families. This fun cooking experience is about getting kids excited for wholesome healthy foods. This past fiscal year (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015) Growing Communities has grown significantly, offering over 115 cooking workshops in partnership with over 12 community agencies, in over 35 locations, to over 2300 children, youth and families. The organization requested funding to buy infrastructure to support and expand their free cooking workshops. A portion of the equipment will replace old items that are no longer of use and the other items will allow Growing Chefs! to split up and offer multiple classes in different locations at the same time.

London Community Foundation strives for continued support of child nutrition programs so that no child goes to bed at night worried that they or a family member will go hungry tomorrow. By working towards a food secure community, we can ensure the well-being of all Londoners.