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Oct18TueThe Salvation Army works in partnership to provide Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows, B.C., children with a healthy lunch to help them have a good school day October 18, 2011 by Julia Hosking
The Salvation Army's Caring Place in Maple Ridge, B.C., is committed to serving anyone in need. After noting that many children were unable to access their daily community feeding program—the only one in the area—a school lunch program commenced this year.
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- Territorial News
A trial ran in June with success and the lunch program officially launched in September, serving more than 70 children on a daily basis.
“We feel it is essential that children have the right nutrition to have a good school day,” says Darrell Pilgrim, director, The Caring Place. “Each bagged lunch includes a meat sandwich, a juice box or bottle of water, fruit or fruit cup and another nutritious snack, such as a granola bar.”
Volunteers from The Salvation Army, several of whom are elderly gentlemen, gather every day to make and pack the lunches.
“It's a great concept,” comments Pilgrim, “one generation helping another. The seniors have a lot of pride in the fact that they're investing in children, helping their school day and improving their lives for the future.”
The Caring Place's ministry to schoolchildren was partly inspired by the recently-established “Sonia's Cradle” ministry, which began after the passing of one of their employees, Sonia Nickle.
“Sonia was dedicated to helping young mothers and children by providing diapers, clothing and formula. As people got together after her passing last year, we discovered she was doing more than we ever knew about,” explains Pilgrim. “We pulled together Sonia's resources and contacts to continue helping families, and the lunch program is part of that.”
The lunch program is a community effort, relying on local donors, The Friend in Need food bank and volunteers from Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Community Services, who drive the packed lunches to eight schools in the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows area.
“We are trying to eliminate the stigma of a kid getting a free meal, so we don't promote it in anyway at the school,” says Pilgrim. “The school receptionists receive the food and hand it out to the kids. After our June pilot program, we received some cards and letters from the schools, particularly from the receptionists who see the need everyday. They thanked us and expressed huge appreciation for what we're doing.”