Snack packs ready to be distributed at Mobile Market

Healthy lunch. (Photo by © Can Stock Photo / Bialasiewicz)

The Inn of the Good Shepherd is expecting to help feed more children experiencing food insecurity this year through its After the Bell Snack Pack program.

The program supported 3,200 children last year but Executive Director Myles Vanni said the need may be greater this summer.

“People may be starting to return to work now but one of the things we find is when somebody’s laid off, it doesn’t take very long to get into debt but when you get back to working it takes a lot longer to get out of that debt burden,” he said.

The program has run for about five years and Vanni said it has been very well received by parents who usually rely on student nutrition programs to give an “extra boost” to their kids.

Snack packs can be picked up at any Mobile Market location throughout the summer until roughly mid-September.

“Often the student nutrition programs don’t get up and running for the first couple of weeks of September while the kids are getting settled in so we want to make sure that we can help fill that gap,” said Vanni.

The snack packs contain a variety of healthy options for such as yogurt, granola bars, and crackers.

“We get some pre-packed kits from Food Banks Canada and we add to them with some additional items and then the day of the market when kids are picking up their packs, we add in fresh fruit, we add in some dairy items as well,” he said. “So each pack will have 21 to 23 items so there’s three good snacks a day.”

Vanni said in addition to some of the items provided, Food Banks Canada contributed about $8,000 toward the program and Noelle’s Gift contributed $15,000.

Residents able to contribute to the snack pack program are still able to make donations to the Inn of the Good Shepherd.

“If they’re not used in the snack pack program, we then have a good supply in the food bank,” he said. “So when kids are back to school, their parents can access some of those lunch items as well throughout the year.”

The Mobile Market will be operational until mid-November. Vanni said so far, there has been a good turnout and anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 pounds of vegetables are distributed each week.