Mustard Seed. File Photo.

The Mustard Seed’s School Lunch Program expanding into Sylvan Lake

‘It allows them to be able to focus on learning instead of focusing on hunger,” says Laura Unruh

The Mustard Seed, in partnership with Chinook’s Edge School Division and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, is expanding its School Lunch Program into Sylvan Lake.

The programs expansion into rural areas comes as a result of funding from the Alberta government.

Laura Unruh, deployment officer at The Mustard Seed, says the targeted lunch program will run similarly to the existing one in Red Deer.

“We will reach out to schools to let them know that the program is available and then it will be up to each school to determine which students qualify and would need to participate in the program,” explained Unruh, adding once the requests are received staff and volunteers prepare lunches and deliver them to the schools to be distributed.

Jason Drent, associate superintendent of learning with Chinook’s Edge School Division, says they are excited about the partnership as schools from the Innisfail area north to Sylvan Lake will now be part of the program.

“[It’s] a bit of a comprehensive approach to supporting communities,” said Drent, “it’s a grassroots program which we’re really excited about.”

“If they need it, they’re going to get help,” he added.

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools says The Mustard Seed has been an integral partner with the division to provide lunch to students in need and they are looking forward to working with the organization in Sylvan Lake as well.

“We are grateful that they continued providing lunches during COVID-19 and continue to explore new partnerships and ways to support the families in Central Alberta,” said Michelle Wright, division principal at Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, in an email.

Unruh says the program is going to have a huge impact on kids who are struggling with food security.

“Students are going to have access to safe, nutritious food that would meet their food preferences and dietary needs for them to have an active and healthy lifestyle and it allows them to be able to focus on learning instead of focusing on hunger,” said Unruh.

Another benefit to the program, she says, is volunteerism as it provides an opportunity for people to give back to their community.

Those interested in volunteering should get in touch with The Mustard Seed.

“I think we all win when we’re taking care of the needs of the most vulnerable,” Unruh added.

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