When Dave Travers came to Ladysmith Secondary School (LSS) as the principal, he knew he wanted to enhance its food program and provide nourishing, healthy options for any student who needed it. At LSS, 10 per cent of the student body does not eat breakfast at home and many may not have the means to bring a healthy lunch to school. Travers determined early on that in order to enhance and sustain a healthy food program, community support and donations would be vital.
“Healthy options cost money,” Travers admits. “And without community support, meeting our food programs needs would be challenging.”
Through various community connections, including Duck Paterson and the Ladysmith Chronicle, Travers connected to the Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary (LHA), a community organization that raises money through its thrift store and distributes profits to a variety of community-based health programs and initiatives.
In February, the LHA approved a donation request of $18 850, monies that supplement district funds that Travers uses to support LSS’ Hunger Bites program. This initiative includes a healthy breakfast program, a lunch program and part of an in-school outreach program.
“Hunger bites. It doesn’t feel good. And students need to be fed in order to get the most out of their education,” says Travers. “The LHA money enables us to feed our students with healthy options. The money also helps us show our students that we care about them.”
The breakfast program provides fruit-based smoothies, whole-grain options, healthy cereals, oatmeal and yogurt to hungry students.
The lunch program sees cafeteria students (a credit-based program) creating sandwiches with healthy breads, meats, cheeses and vegetables. According to Travers, this program not only helps feed hungry students but helps raise awareness in students of food security issues and the importance of supporting and caring for one another.
Finally, the outreach program uses cooking and eating together as a way to build relationships, connections and skills in its program. “Not all students are going to be served by one education system. Some students benefit from a slightly alternative program. In this program we use food to build relationships and connection,” explains Travers. “We bring students together with food.”
“The LHA funds have been an absolute blessing,” says Travers. “This is the strength of Ladysmith — the community comes together to help one another out and to care about everyone, which is exactly what we’re trying to do with our food programs.”