Timber Coffee Co. is serving as a hub for a free school lunch program during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We saw a need and with the involvement of many community churches, agencies, businesses and individual donors have created this lunch program,” said Timber’s Erin Dirsten in an email.
The program is completely free and carried out on a volunteer basis, added Dirsten.
The Sylvan Lake coffee shop is a non-profit which serves as a branch of Central Alberta Youth Unlimited.
As the pandemic hit, Dirsten explained, one of their frequent supports wanted to put into Timber’s Pay It Forward program and purchased a large number of grilled cheese to hand out to students who often stop in over lunch hour.
“At the same time our on-site youth and family counsellor approached us with a need for a few local families for food support,” said Dirsten, these needs in combination with the schools being closed and the donation of grilled cheese made them realize the opportunity to support the community.
They then reached out to the local schools and offered assistance in setting up a lunch program, Dirsten added.
With Timber serving as the centrepiece, the Alliance Community Church, the Food Bank and the Lions Club, as well as other businesses and community members making donations and volunteering to pack lunches work together on the program.
The Alliance Community Church has had a long-standing sandwich program with the local schools to provide kids in the local schools with lunches.
“We still make the lunches and the muffins and sometimes put in a fruit and we now put in juice boxes as well,” said Heather Donald, facility maintenance manager at the Alliance Community Church and Mercy Connect coordinator.
After the boxes are packed they are sent to Timber for the schools’ family wellness worker to pick up for delivery.
“This helps keep the connection between the school and their families and also allows for anonymity if desired,” commented Dirsten.
“Timber is just a hub to many spokes that allow the wheel to move.”
The program, she says, has quickly expanded past students to include the siblings and parents, as well as anyone who needs a boost and some encouragement within the community.
Anyone who would like to receive lunch support of donate to the program can email firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out though social media.
Those looking for support can also reach out to the Alliance Community Church’s Mercy Connect program at 403-887-8811.