Kids in Regina who don’t have a school feeding program during the summer are still able to fill their stomachs thanks to a collection of non-profit organizations like REACH.
REACH, which stands for Regina Education and Action on Child Hunger, is providing lunches for the city’s playground program called PlayEscapes, where there’s no lunch hour supervision.
With financial help from Nutrien, staff and volunteers are able to provide fresh lunches Monday to Friday, which include roast beef, ham, chicken, fruit and vegetables.
“During the school year, many of the schools have programs. Then when those programs aren’t there, there’s this void and that’s what we’re filling over the summer,” Executive Director Dana Folkersen said.
She added it’s often hard to understand the reality of poverty in the city.
“Many parents that we work with are working — there’s two working parents — but they’re working at minimum wage,” she said. “They may be able to provide breakfast for their child and they may be able to provide supper, but they just don’t have enough to make a nutritious lunch.”
However, she said the reasons children are in poverty aren’t always financial.
She said parents can struggle with alcohol or drug addictions, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to provide for their kids.
“Children haven’t chose this,” she said.
“The investment we make today, the investment that Nutrien’s making by supporting this, it will pay off down the road,” Folkersen said.
She emphasized good food sets kids up for a better life. It makes them more motivated to get a proper education and keeps them well behaved so they stay out of trouble.
REACH also plans lunches based on food restrictions and makes vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
Feeding kids in need is a team effort between REACH, the Salvation Army and Chili for Children, who coordinate to make sure they’re covering as much of the city as possible and not overlapping.
REACH and their partners provide 400 to 500 lunches a day, according to Folkersen.