Posted by John Borst on Nov 15, 2018
The research is clear that a hungry child is at a clear disadvantage compared to a well feed child when it comes to school-based learning. Hence many jurisdictions have a breakfast program.
There are a few children, however, whose level of food security is such that they may not be getting enough food at home on the weekends. 
At the November 7th Rotary meeting Kendra Moss Kondra, a parent from St. Joseph's School Council and Stephanie Cran of the North Western Health Unit (NWHU) shared the story of
how the Nutrition on Weekends or NOW Program was instituted for this most vulnerable group of children at Dryden’s St. Joseph’s School (SJS).
The NOW program has traditionally occurred in the schools of Red Lake and Ignace. With the assistance on NWHU, a pilot began at St. Joseph’s School (SJS) in April 2018 and continued this school year.
NOW is a school community-driven program. At SJS it is supported financially by the Parent’s Council and TBay Tel.
NOW provides a package of healthy easy to prepare foods for children on weekends. The food is discretely placed in the child’s backpack each Friday. The NWHU provides support with a guidebook and startup funds.
Ten children from six families were identified by the school. As the lead parent, each week Kendra shops for the food with items for breakfast, lunch and snack options. She buys non-perishable food items such as cereal, pasta, and canned goods, and puts them into bags. The teacher unobtrusively places the bags in the backpacks of the children on Friday afternoon.
The cost per package is between $10 and 12 dollars. The Parent Council must raise about $5000 per year for the program.
By increasing food availability in the short term NOW strives to improve school attendance and educational outcomes in the medium term and support healthy growth and development in the long-term.
Testimonials from parents and teachers think that this is an invaluable program to help students learn.