VON Boosts Student Nutrition
VON is proud to play a key role in boosting student nutrition in Southwestern Ontario. The Ontario Student Nutrition Program – Southwest Region (OSNP-SW) is administered at VON’s Windsor-Essex site.
OSNP-SW serves 480 schools in eight regions of Ontario. “We are on track to serve over 20 million meals this year alone,” says Amy Donaldson, Manager, Home and Community Care - OSNP. “The program is important, as there are numerous reasons children need food during the school day and this program also helps to teach them about fun and exciting foods they can eat.”
VON is one of 14 lead agencies that form Student Nutrition Ontario (SNO). Together the agencies administer funding and provide program support for healthy breakfast, snack and lunch programs for children across the province.
The program receives funding of 13 cents per child per day from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS). SNO shares information and fosters relationships to supplement the funding.
“The average snack costs 75 to 80 cents and a meal is closer to $2,” Amy explains. “The lead agency and schools are required to fundraise and support to make up the difference.” Supporters include Breakfast Club of Canada, The Grocery Foundation, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Egg Farmers of Ontario and many more.
It is a true community effort, with community partnership committees in each region, a regional dietitian committee, student advisory committees and partnerships with agencies, colleges and universities.
“We work hard to pilot new projects, be inclusive and explore new opportunities to support students,” Amy says. Each year, OSNP-SW celebrates several events, including the Great Big Crunch and VON Week (sharing a blue snack). They also work closely with Growing Chefs! Ontario to explore and distribute culturally unique foods.
In addition to VON staff, OSNP-SW relies on many volunteers. Each of the 480 sites has volunteers and school staff who operate the programs and fundraise for support.
VON became the lead agency for Southwestern Ontario over 15 years ago when MCCSS took over funding of school breakfast programs. OSNP-SW covers Grey Bruce, Oxford, Elgin, Middlesex London, Huron Perth, Sarnia Lambton, Chatham Kent and Windsor Essex.