Did you know that in partnership with the community, over 2,100 Halton Food for Thought Volunteers (including 1060 students) provided healthy nutritious food to elementary and secondary students via 200+ Student Nutrition Programs in over 130 partner schools this school year so they can succeed?
Every year 3 million+ healthy meals and snacks are funded, shopped, chopped and lovingly made available to HDSB and HCDSB students in universally accessible, non-stigmatizing school environments across Halton, helping kids reach their potential.
Volunteers of the Year
The Oakville Volunteer of the Year award goes to two Coordinators that have gone above and beyond to ensure the students at Abbey Lane Public School have access to healthy food every day. Nicole Hassan and Nancy Hardcastle have been in charge of running the Breakfast and Salad Bar Program for many years. They have done an amazing job recruiting staff, students, and community volunteers to help run these programs. We truly cannot say enough about Nancy and Nicole and their team of volunteers. Every morning volunteers come in at 8am to set up tables in the forum. They prep and serve a variety of fresh, healthy, and sometimes quite gourmet food including, smoothies, fresh fruit, cereal, pancakes, egg sandwiches and much more. In addition, they offer a Salad Bar option once a week with fun themes like, taco salad, Greek salad, Asian salads and more! Nancy and Nicole’s continued dedication and desire to help feed students made them a perfect candidate for the Volunteer of the Year. Especially considering both Nancy and Nicole no longer have kids attending Abbey Lane. They fully understand the need and benefit to providing healthy food to students to fill their bellies and fuel their brain. Therefore, they continue to dedicate their time and effort to Abbey Lane PS. They make running the Breakfast and Salad Bar Program seem easy and is always done with such a positive attitude.
Student Volunteers of the Year
Oakville is fortunate to have many students involved in running the Student Nutrition Programs at schools. However, the team of students from River Oaks Public School have done an exceptional job running the Breakfast Cart Program and filling the Healthy Classroom Bins each week to ensure students have access to healthy food. With a school this size running two Student Nutrition Programs, it was challenging to recruit parents to take on such a huge task. Instead they decided to enlist student volunteers to run both the Breakfast Cart and Healthy Classroom Bin Program. This school admin team was so supportive of this initiative they decided to make it a mandatory for Gr 8 students to help. Each year they have over 60 students volunteer! Richard Bernard, a teacher at River Oaks PS over sees the programs and helps recruit and train the students so they know exactly what to do each day. This amazing group of students takes the time to count out the amount of food items to go on the cart and in each bin. Then they put the carts out in the designated areas and deliver bins to the classrooms. Having students run the program also helps reduce stigma. Peers providing food to other peers allows the program to be universal and open to any students that needs a healthy snack to help keep them focused throughout the day. Thank you and congratulations to all the student helpers at River Oaks PS.
School of the year
Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School has been running a Student Nutrition Program for over 8 years. The program first started as a Healthy Bin Station in the guidance office. Several years ago, the EAs took over the program and decided to expand to a Grab and Go Breakfast format served from a central location in the school forum. The purpose of changing to this format was to provide more fresh food and protein options to students first thing in the morning. Also, this format allowed for student volunteers to help run the program. The Holy Trinity Breakfast is a true example of a universal Student Nutrition Program open to all students. It is a part of their school culture which ensures there is no stigma attached it. The success of this program is truly the efforts and support of the entire school and community. They are a true role model for other schools and have used every opportunity available to them to gather food and funds for their program. They are a great example of when an entire school community come together great things can be achieved.
Volunteer of the Year
Katie Dunk is the Breakfast Program coordinator at Brant Hills Public School. Since taking over the position of coordinator, Katie has gone above and beyond to ensure students have access to a fun variety of healthy food. She hosted a safe food handling certification course for volunteers at the school to support safe program delivery. When the new COBS Bread opened close by, she secured alternating weekly bread donations. The amount of bread was far too much for the school to consume, so to avoid waste, Katie contacted other schools nearby offering to share the donation. This effort resulted in three schools benefitting from the generous donation of fresh bread! Katie facilitated the end of day pickup and sorting of the bread, preparing it for the other school coordinators to take back and deliver in their programs. When schools closed due to the pandemic, Katie continued to support students and families in her community by delivering groceries to those needing help and volunteering for the HFFT and FFL food box initiative. We are grateful for Katie’s support and commitment to HFFT and the students we serve.
Student Volunteers of the Year
The Assumption Catholic Secondary School Breakfast Program had a complete makeover in the past year, and not just because of the renovated school, but because of the addition of a winning student team of Breakfast Program student volunteers. This dedicated group of students serve up breakfast with a smile five mornings a week! The addition of this team has helped the Breakfast Program grow and reach more students. The welcoming atmosphere has created the universal feel that HFFT works towards in all our programs. This program is not just about feeding students, but a celebration of fellowship and togetherness that sends students off to class focused, fed, and ready to learn. The Assumption Breakfast Program is a favourite for hosting HFFT guests because they always feel welcome and have a ton of fun! Thank you to all of you for your hard work and dedication.
School of the Year
Burlington Central is a school that could be the Burlington School of the Year every year! Delivering food to students is a passion, not just to the staff and students who volunteer, but to the entire BCS community. The centre of the BCS student nutrition universe revolves around their Breakfast Program where everyone, from students to staff, is welcome. The overwhelming support of this program inspires fun and fabulous fundraisers, bringing in thousands of dollars every year, which in turn allows the school to purchase a variety of healthier options. The popularity of the program extended to the surrounding community and helped inspire the staff from Feilding Dental to dedicate generous donations of time, in-kind, and monetary support. If a student is not able to make it to the Breakfast Program, they need not worry. Food is readily available in Healthy Classroom Bins and Stations throughout the school. Lastly, the Meal Card Program ensures that those students who do need extra support are recognized and provided with a healthy lunch as needed. From healthy food options and a welcoming universal program to financial reporting and fundraising, this community of staff, students, and volunteers works together to ensure no student goes hungry at Burlington Central School.
Halton Hills and Milton
Volunteers of the Year
Vicki Santaguida and Margeaux Lane have been volunteering for three years and they coordinate and help prepare the weekly St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Elementary School Salad Bar Program. Without Vicki and Margeaux, the program would not thrive. Both ladies arrive at the school in the morning and spend the whole day preparing, serving, and cleaning up after the program. They are both deeply committed to volunteering at the school. In addition to the Salad Bar Program, you can find both ladies at the school serving pizza weekly, attending school trips, and supporting Catholic School Council events. They are valued partners at the school. Halton Food for Thought is grateful for all their hard work at the program, for how they lovingly prepare the vegetables and special items for the cart and enthusiastically greet each student with a smile, a helping hand, and caring for their students’ well-being. The whole team at St. Francis of Assisi has welcomed many special guests on behalf of HFFT. They serve with love and kindness and contribute much to their community.
Student Volunteers of the Year
The students from Life Skills Class, Room 101, are responsible for shopping, washing, and preparing food, setting up and cleaning up, and welcoming the students participating in the Grab and Go Breakfast Program daily at Christ the King Catholic Secondary School. They carry out their assigned jobs proficiently and with enthusiasm. The student team always encourage students to take a variety of healthy items when they greet them in the morning. They remind them of the various food groups and to try to select items from each group to make sure the proper nutrition is promoted. They enjoy making the food displays pleasing to the eye to encourage students to try new things.” When they introduced hard boiled eggs to the program, the student team helped repackage and promoted their benefits to the students picking out items to try. The students from Life Skills Class, Room 101, are cheerful, polite, and hardworking. They love meeting and developing relationships with the other students in the building and they take great pride in knowing that they are providing a much-needed service to the school.
School of the Year
The team at J.M. Denyes Public School has a strong sense of community and concern for the well-being of the students and they, along with the excellent leadership of administration and their volunteer coordinator, Tammy Szafer, work hard to provide a caring environment in which their students may thrive. Denny’s Diner, named for the school mascot and resident dragon, is a lively morning Breakfast Program that offers students a warm welcome and an abundance of healthy food choices on Monday and Tuesday. Students can choose from pancakes, grilled cheese, smoothies and a variety of fresh fruit or vegetables. Under Tammy’s creative guidance, the program has introduced Dr. Seuss’s Birthday Breakfast of Green Eggs and Ham and a Nacho and Cheese Day for Cinco de Mayo. Special volunteers like the community police officers often visit and bring swag bags for the students. The program has expanded to include a breakfast grab and go cart that goes outside on Thursday mornings to offer the students healthy options such as a hot, toasted bagel (the toaster goes outside, too) along with a smile as they enter the school. The program has thrived under the leadership of the volunteer coordinator, Tammy Szafer, who is not afraid to introduce new things to engage the students and the team has increased the use of the program while still running a Classroom Bin Program to ensure that healthy food is there every day for the students when they need it. Halton Food for thought is grateful to Tammy and her team for their hard work and dedication to Denny’s Diner and the Healthy Bin Program. They contribute mightily with dragon sized hearts to an equitable and positive learning environment that exists at J.M. Denyes.
Community Partner of the Year
Have you ever experienced caring, dedicated and right-on-point leadership? Then you will know why Central West’s Lead Student Nutrition Program Agency was selected for this award! Student Nutrition Programs in Ontario are managed within 14 regions. Each region has a lead agency which is responsible for managing the MCCSS funding disbursement, ensuring programs are meeting all nutritional and food safety guidelines as well as advocating for our programs and our needs. Central West Region, which includes Halton, Peel, Waterloo, Wellington, Dufferin, and Guelph are all supported by the Kitchener-Waterloo YMCA. Like HFFT, the Central West team is small but mighty. Jen Hutcheson and Teen Steeves are amazing to work with and have been incredibly supportive during this challenging year. We have benefitted from their support in many, many ways and here are a few of them:
- Advocated for us to Breakfast Clubs of Canada for continued support for the coming school year as well as obtaining COVID grants of $43,000 and boxes of vouchers for grocery items given out over the summer
- Increasing our MCCSS funding for the coming school year
- Supporting all of the region’s teams by collecting and sharing best practices and hosting problem-solving webinars for us during the pandemic
- Helped us with logistical planning for our in-school and hubs for this school year
- All of this on top of the regular data collection, ministry reports and other duties!
Business Partner of the Year
And the winner of this year’s Halton Food for Thought Business Partner of the Year Award goes to… Source for Sports Head Office Staff Team! With Brad Hause, in the lead, the Burlington-based head office team of Source for Sports has been donating to Halton Food for Thought annually since 2015. In total – the team has contributed over $7,000 towards ensuring students in Halton have access to the nutritious food they need to fuel their full day of learning. When asked why the Source for Sports team has committed their ongoing support to Halton Food for Thought Brad says “ We are very much aligned with Halton Food for Thought’s mission as we are all about ensuring kids have active healthy lives, and that starts with proper nutrition. We are very thankful, and proud, to be recognized with this award as it signifies that we are making a difference, here at home.” Together, we #FeedTheirFuture- we cannot thank you enough Source for Sports Staff Team Burlington! “Teamwork is how everyday people achieve remarkable goals.” unknown
Individual Partner of the Year
Any 15-year-old student that can pivot their fundraising efforts during a pandemic and raise over $1000 for Halton Food for Thought is a true community hero in my eyes. HFFT first partnered with Paige Bain - a local Burlington student in the fall of 2019. Paige @_simply.scrunchies was already in the business of making scrunchies and selling them to support local causes. She partnered with Joelle’s (a women’s clothing store downtown Burlington) and sold scrunchies on site with all profits coming to HFFT. Later in the year when the pandemic hit, HFFT approached Paige to see if she could adapt and make masks instead of scrunchies. Paige did not hesitate and immediately started making patterns for masks in addition to being a full-time student. Overall, Paige raised $1000 from mask sales and $175 from scrunchies all in support of making sure students continue to receive healthy food at school. Paige is a true inspiration, and we can only imagine how far her hard work, dedication and dreams will take her in the future. On behalf of Halton Food for Thought team and more importantly the students that you will help feed this year – thank you for all your hard work and congratulations on being the well-deserved HFFT Individual Partner of the Year.
“Help one another; there’s no time like the present
and no present like the time”