What about “After the Bell”?

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What a wonderful world we live in. Despite rising costs of living, including food prices that seem to be creeping up more and more every day, it is a fact that no child ever has to go hungry in this great country. Programs and services exist to ensure that kids get the food they need, even when their parents struggle financially, and regardless of whether they’re at home or at school.

Locally, the House of Lazarus is a well-known charity that exemplifies the spirit of giving and helping others. House of Lazarus runs general food banks that provide families in need with zero-cost food. For families who may only need a little “boost” to their existing food supply, other programs exist as well. One such initiative is the so-called “Operation Backpack” program. House of Lazarus runs this program in some area schools to help supplement government programs for feeding hungry kids.

The federal government provides ample dollars to feed kids in public schools during the school day. Kids who run out of snacks during the day or come to school with no lunch are fed using these grant dollars. One small problem looms, however: school is only in session five out of seven days per week. Operation Backpack sends home a bag of food (cereals, packaged snacks, fruit, etc) every Friday to kids who are identified by the school as being in need of a helping hand. Operation Backpack aptly acknowledges that nutrition needs don’t end when kids are away from school.

Another well-named program – After the Bell – was also adopted by House of Lazarus recently. “The Food Banks Canada After the Bell program is dedicated to ending child hunger,” HOL Director Cathy Ashby relayed to the Times from the initiative’s website. “With school nutrition programs ending for the summer months, After the Bell aims to fill that gap. [Their] goal is to provide child-friendly, healthy food packs to food banks to distribute to kids experiencing hunger throughout Canada.”

House of Lazarus took part in the After the Bell program this past summer. Subway is a major sponsor of the After the Bell Program. Children were given healthy food packs throughout the summer, with Food Banks Canada providing the packs of non-perishable food and giving House of Lazarus funding to add fresh fruits and vegetables as well as dairy products like yogurt and cheese. Dollars from donors such as Subway help make this possible.

“House of Lazarus was excited to be a recipient of the After the Bell program,” added Cathy. “The number of children accessing our food bank has grown to 37%. This program allowed HOL to offer more food to families with children. We extend our thanks to corporations like Subway who contribute to the program nationally.

“The After the Bell program is generously supported by our corporate partners who help us in our mission to put an end to child hunger. Once the healthy food packs arrive at their local food banks, fresh fruits and vegetables are added. They are then delivered into the hands of children experiencing hunger. Healthy food packs contain varied nutritious food items such as shelf stable milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, hummus and oatmeal, to name few.”

To all those who work hard and make donations to ensure that no child in our area and beyond ever has to go hungry – thank you!

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