The Florence Meares Healthy Snack Bin program has been in place for over 15 years and is run by a heterogeneous group of volunteers: parent volunteers, grade 6 “Buddies”, and the students in the Life Skills program. Each classroom has a bin of nutritious snacks to help feed hungry kids that have either forgot a lunch, or are especially hungry that day. Every child is encouraged to eat their food from home first, and then welcome to help themselves to a snack from the bin.
Our Life Skills students range in age from Grade 4-8, and ability (they have a variety of medical, behavioural, physical and intellectual needs). These students follow an Alternative Curriculum which includes building living skills, such as learning how to take care of themselves, increasing independence within the school and the community, and building functional academic skills, such as literacy, communication and numeracy.
Our bins are refilled each week by a team of students, teachers, and parent volunteers. In the past this program was solely run by parent volunteers. We appreciated all of their help, however we were keen to have student involvement. Our Life Skills class is very active in helping around the school and were eager to help! They partner up with a Grade 6 helper and take care of collecting the bins from each class every week, refill each one, and return to the classrooms. This collaboration enhances social learning opportunities, builds independence from adults and, due to previous challenges around completing the job in a timely manner, increased job completion time! Parent volunteers help to organize the snack bins and clean up afterwards.
Our favourite addition to the bins have been local fresh apples provided by Drummond Farms. We have a delivery each week and washed by the Life Skills class. They are also busy sorting our food delivery when it comes, making sure everything is put away in storage and ready to go for our refill days.
Our Healthy Snack Bin program follows the Ministry’s Safe and Accepting School Policy by providing our Life Skills students an opportunity to feel welcome, safe and respected within the school environment. This program builds a sense of inclusion and a greater understanding of what perseverance looks like to different people in the school.