Most school-run food programs are shut down during the summer months. Food Banks Canada established the After the Bell program to fill the child hunger gap during this time of high need for families who depend on meal and snack programs for their children while they’re at school. They acquire and assemble the non-perishable food and distribute the packs along with grants to local food banks. The local food banks use the grants to purchase fresh, local produce to add to the bags. Each After the Bell pack includes shelf-stable milk, oatmeal, crackers, granola bars and more.
Last year, we distributed the 3,360 packs directly to our clients who had children aged 6 to 11 at our distribution locations during the summer break. It was a great success! We added at least four fresh items to the packs each week, spending more than what was allocated in the grant to really increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables for these kids.
Majid, our Supply Chain Specialist who takes care of our weekly menu planning, purchasing, and inventory management, was involved in planning the distribution of After the Bell packs and the reporting last year. This year, he came up with a new idea to direct the packs to the Burnaby Neighbourhood House, which has many connections to local families and schools. As a father to a beautiful girl, Majid is committed to supporting other children in the community.
Majid, what inspired you to direct the After the Bell packs to one of our Community Agency Partners (CAPs)?
“I spent a lot of time this past year with the team to ensure we are taking good care of the children who visit the GVFB. I am really proud of the four specialized programs we have now for children from birth to 12 years old. When it was time to apply for the After the Bell program, I thought to myself, ‘What can we do with these packs as we already distribute specialized nutritional packs to our clients with children? How can we support more children in our community?’ Then I thought about our Community Agency Partners and saw an opportunity there through their client base.”
Why did we decide to direct the After the Bell packs to the Burnaby Neighbourhood House (BNH)?
When our leadership team supported the idea, the Community Agencies team worked hard to communicate with our CAPs to find potential candidates. The candidates need to be working closely with Grade School age kids, willing to sign the mutual agreement, and have the capacity to receive the bags and complete a report afterwards. We decided to go with the BNH as their plan to distribute the packs directly to the elementary schools in the district aligned perfectly with the program’s goals.
The BNH will be distributing all of the 3,000+ packs on behalf of the GVFB to 8 different schools in School District 41. The After the Bell packs will be perfect to supplement their usual food support!
“It’s been a long but very fulfilling process to get the packs into children’s hands, and many people were involved” reflects Majid. “My colleague Elizabeth, in the Development department, was responsible for applying to the program. The Community Agencies team was coordinating with BNH. The operations team was also involved in the logistics of the shipment. And finally, our friends at the BNH are the last link in the chain. Overall, the process took about five months, but it was worth every minute.”
You are passionate about food, and you are the point person for menu planning at the GVFB; what do you and your daughter like to eat at home?
“We usually cook together. My daughter loves to participate in the process of cooking. Fortunately, she likes many vegetables and fruits. Mushrooms, broccoli, avocadoes, apples, and strawberries are just some of her favourites. She can’t resist asking for more when it comes to mac and cheese, spaghetti or pizza. My daughter also likes many Persian dishes, specially Jujeh kabab (Grilled chunks of chicken), Khoresht-e gheimeh (Yellow split peas Stew), and Loobia Polow (Rice with Green Beans and minced meat). We try to eat a variety of foods at home, along with lots of vegetables and fruits. A well-balanced diet is very important to us!”
A final note from us:
After months of hard work from our team, we are thrilled to play a role in the After the Bell program and look forward to distributing this nutritious program to children in need in our community.