October 30th, 2020

Three-way partnership helping continue student lunch program


By Lethbridge Herald on March 30, 2020.

Lethbridge Food Bank executive director Maral Kiani Tari teamed up with Holy Spirit Catholic Schools director of support services Michelle MacKinnon, along with other school staff, to help deliver supplement care packages to students in need. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Greg Bobinec
Lethbridge Herald
gbobinec@lethbridgeherald.com
The Lethbridge Food Bank is continuing a partnership with My City Care and the Holy Spirit School Division, as they continue a lunch program and evolve it into an in-need supplement plan for students and their families.
Following the closure of schools from the COVID-19 pandemic, many students who depended on the Mindful Munchies program throughout the Holy Spirit schools have fallen short with their food supply needs, but the trio of organizations has stepped up to provide them with their necessities.
“The Lethbridge Food Bank, in partnership with My City Care, had a lunch program that is called Mindful Munchies, and the program came to a halt as the schools were closed because of COVID-19,” says Maral Kiani Tari, executive director of Lethbridge Food Bank. “We thought of ways to continue our support for our children and youth that are in need in the community, so we initiated providing those lunch items in the food banks to start, and then we had a meeting with the Holy Spirit School Division and they wanted to support their families that they have identified as in need.”
Included in the supplements being provided families in need, the school is also providing game cards, mental health notes and items that will help support the students in their own situation.
“We are also in contact right now with Lethbridge School Division to see if we are able to replicate a plan for students that they have identified as in need,” says Kiani Tari. “In this first round, we have about 76 supplement packages and that was the amount of product that we have at the moment, but we have placed our order to identify about 161 families that may be receiving items in the next delivery.”
Michelle MacKinnon, director of support services with Holy Spirit Catholic Schools, says the project’s goal is to maintain connection with these students, making sure they are ok and have access to resources in the community.
“We need to be nourishing kids with food. But we also be need to be nourishing them with connection, we need to be nourishing them with spirituality. They need to know the people in their school are still out there and they’re still ok and we’re in this together,” said MacKinnon.
Lethbridge Food Bank, along with Interfaith Food Bank, have seen a spike in clients in need of a food supply, and they welcome all new users to their facility. As an emergency crisis agency, Lethbridge Food Bank encourages people to use them as a resource in their time of need.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of people coming in through our door and we anticipate that number to increase with job loss and layoff and business closure,” says Kiani Tari. “People who are struggling and are in need we are encouraging them to use us as a resource, this is what we are meant for and it is what we are here for, so we can support our community and families in the way that we can.”
Lethbridge Food Bank is still looking for a variety of volunteers to help their operations as they assist the community through the crisis of COVID-19 pandemic.

  • with files from Ian Martens
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