A new Summit Youth Centre initiative is helping put tasty, nutritious lunches and snack in the hands (and bellies) of Columbia Valley kids this summer.
The youth centre’s weekly Summer Snack Program was launched at the beginning of July as a way to bridge the summer break gap, so to speak, for students who access similar lunch and snack programs through the school system.
“It was a youth-identified need. Some of the youth at our centre use these programs in the school, and one concern they presented us was ‘what do I do over the summer’,” said centre executive director Kelsey Pritchard. “That’s where this idea came from.”
The Summer Snack Program began on Wednesday, July 5th, and has operated every Wednesday since then, and now reaches 83 kids, babies or youth in Edgewater, Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Area G, Radium, Wilmer, Invermere, Shuswap Indian Band, Aksiqnuk First Nation, Windermere, RDEK Area F, and Canal Flats.
“It’s going really well. We’ve had so much support from the community in terms of volunteer help and donations,” said Ms. Pritchard.
When the Pioneer visited on Wednesday, July 31st, about a dozen of the program’s 20 volunteers bustled about the youth centre, filling lunch and snack bags with fresh fruit and veggies, soup cans, granola bars, crackers and more.
“There are people in the Columbia Valley who don’t have enough food. We need to do our part to help them,” 10-year old volunteer William Johnson told the Pioneer.
“We are grateful for the good food we have, so we want to help out those who are not as fortunate,” added 11-year old volunteer Amanda Paccagnan.
After spending most of the morning packing the food, Ms. Pritchard, with help from volunteers, makes sure the food gets driven out to central locations in each community, so those the program supports can pick it up.
The youth centre runs the program with support from the Columbia Valley Food Bank, the parents of J. A. Laird Elementary School, the Columbia Basin Trust and the Kootenay Savings Credit Union.
Anybody wishing to get involved with the program (which will run until Wednesday, August 28th, after which the school years starts up again), either as a recipient, volunteer or donor, can do so by contacting Ms. Pritchard at firstname.lastname@example.org.