Canterbury High School's hot lunch program got a big boost in funding Oct. 30 from the Brewer Foundation, a charitable organization in New Brunswick dedicated to eradicating student hunger.
"The goal is for every child in the province to have their nutritional needs met so they can succeed in the school environment," said Bart Myers, a representative of the community-based foundation founded by Earl and Sandy Brewer. Myers presented Canterbury culinary tech students with the cheque for their school lunch program on behalf of the Brewers.
Over the past year, the Brewer Foundation has invested in 15 projects, totalling $500,000 for school food programs. On Oct. 30, another donation of $7,300 was delivered to Nackawic High School and Nackawic Middle School.
Principal Susan Mabie said Canterbury High School has operated a culinary tech program for the past 10 years. It began when the school cafeteria lost its food service provider and so they began cooking meals on their own.
"At that point, we had an open kitchen and started culinary tech," Mabie said. "The students run our cafeteria. We have also had a free
breakfast program for over 10 years which we operate with support from the community."
"Breakfast is out for everyone and we have been exploring how
best to implement a free hot lunch program for students who can use the extra food,
keeping in mind, we can’t feed everyone yet we want to ensure everyone’s needs are
Currently, the Grade 11-12 culinary tech class prepares meals
for the cafeteria as well as hot lunch and serve it to their
peers. At such a small school (130 pupils), students who need help will get a free lunch at the
cafeteria the same as other students and the Brewer Foundation will be
supporting the cost. The dignity and privacy of every hungry student is protected.
"Parents have shared that as the price of food increases,
feeding their children can sometimes be very difficult," Mabie noted. "In my experience,
most families don’t struggle all the time. It is more common that some
struggle periodically with unexpected bills, winter heating costs, and work
shortages. The hard part is knowing when this happens and parents and students
alike are good at hiding this. We want to help and, with the generosity of
people like the Brewers, we can. I would encourage any parent struggling
with this to let their child’s teacher or guidance counsellor know. Some
students will tell us, but is saddens me when I find out that someone has
struggled with food insufficency and we didn’t know."
Mabie said the donation from the Brewer Foundation will allow the school to support students in need over the next year and and a half and that will translate into better and stronger learning outcomes. At the same time, the culinary tech students are learning important life skills such as preparing healthy meals, costing and buying food, meal planning and even counting money and making change. The experience in the kitchen also helps prepare them for the workforce.
"Most of this group are pretty good cooks at home too," she said.
By the end of this school year, with the help of the Brewer Foundation, the school will know what it needs to make the hot lunch program sustainable over the long term, Mabie noted.
Shown in the photo below (left to right) are Canterbury High School Principal Susan Mabie, culinary tech students Austin Weston, Bryce Dickison, Alex Sharp, Austin Lutwick, Sawyer Dorish and Pia Oxyenmyer, with Bart Myers, representing the Brewer Foundation.