It’s just after 7 a.m. in the community of Greystone, on the outskirts of Halifax. Chef Sonny has opened the doors to Family SOS. His task? Feed nearly half of the nearby school.
Working by himself it’s no easy feat. In just four hours, his group will deliver nearly 200 meals for students at the nearby Rockingstone Heights School.
The community has seen its fair share of tough times. The demand for food in the community has grown exponentially, not only at food banks, but also in schools.
This week, a special request by students: macaroni and cheese.
To feed the students, the group relies solely on donations, which have slowly shrunk as of late. It’s not a simple box of macaroni, it’s nearly 33 pounds of noodles, 3.5 litres of cream, a mountain of cheese and a bag of onions.
After hours of cooking, the meals are separated into individual containers. For some, this may be their only meal of the day.
“I feel like every child deserves a hot meal at lunchtime,” Family SOS’s program manager Jessica Young said.
“I know that some kids can go without lunch, so we want to make sure everyone doesn’t go away hungry.”
In its third year, the program was created after seeing an increased need in the community. The group also serves as a local foodbank in the Greystone area, where food insecurity continues to rise.
After seeing first hand the effects of food insecurity, the organizers decided to start their own lunch program. Currently, their lunch program is the only one in the school, feeding students twice a week.
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Hopes for expansion beyond a two-day-a-week operation have become increasingly difficult with a lack of donations as of late. The program, which has felt the needs enlarge over the years, has been doing so with declining donations.
According to data from Food Banks Canada, Nova Scotia had a 26.8 per cent increase in food bank visits from 2019 to 2023. At the 130 food banks that reported data, 10,039 of the 32,498 visits in 2023 were from children.
“I feel like it’s needed a lot more now with the price of inflation and food,” Young told Global News in an interview.
“We would love to be able to do it four days a week, but we don’t have the accessibility or the funds to be able to do that.”
— with files from Rebecca Lau
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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