A former North Oyster Elementary School student wants to see the school’s old lunch program put back on the menu.
At the end of the school year, parents learned that provincial CommunityLink funding, which supported the school’s hot lunch program, was being re-allocated to instructional supports for students.
In its place, the Nanaimo Foodshare Program will be providing meals at a cost of $3.75 per student whose need was identified by a take-home survey. School district representatives have said extra meals will also be available to students to ensure no child goes hungry. The meals previously cost $1.50 per student.
However Stacey MacAdam, North Oyster Parent Advisory Council member, is concerned that the cost will be too much for some families, and she is trying to fundraise approximately $30,000 by summer’s end to keep the hot lunch program in place.
While there has been some response, MacAdam is worried it won’t be enough to make that September deadline.
“We’ve sent out letters and it’s been in the newspapers; I just don’t know what to do next,” she said.
Terry Giannakos said he was spurred to action after reading the Chronicle’s July 3 article on the issue. Giannakos said he grew up in Ladysmith and attended North Oyster Elementary School through Grades 1-7. At the time, his father owned the Omega Restaurant on the outskirts of Ladysmith (now The Gryphon’s Lair). Although he was not a recipient of the lunch program, Giannakos said many of his schoolmates were.
“That school means a lot to me, then when I saw the article … I wanted to see how we could help,” he said. “Times are tough for everybody right now, and that program helps a lot of people.”
After 20 years away from home, Giannakos has returned as executive chef and manager of The Gryphon’s Lair. For the past six years, he has been a consultant for restaurants around the continent, helping restaurant owners who are down in sales to improve through administration, new menus and training of staff.
He says he is interested in giving back to the community as his father did when he owned the restaurant. On Fri., Aug. 10, the restaurant will be hosting a pig roast with live entertainment to support the Ladysmith Food Bank. Patrons who bring in donations to the Ladysmith Food Bank will receive a free appetizer with their meal that night.
“It’s cool to be back,” Giannakos said.
On Aug. 23, The Gryphon’s Lair is donating 25 per cent of all food purchases made at the restaurant that day to the North Oyster Elementary School hot lunch program. Giannakos is also trying to pull together corporate sponsorships from the food industry and says he already has a commitment of approximately $3,000.
In addition, Yellow Point Lodge has made a $900 donation to the cause.
MacAdam said she has also had an individual come forward to inquire about a mutual fund donation, but with school out of session, she has been unable to consult with administration.
Giannakos said that if the hot lunch program is not able to be re-instated, he is interested in looking into the possibility of providing a free meal to students in need once a week by donating his time and corporate sponsorships donating the necessary food.
“I want to see what we can do and what we’re allowed to do,” he said. “Something’s gotta be done.”
If you’d like to find out more information or are interested in helping out, contact Stacey MacAdam at 250-667-2561.