Good eats at Cape Croker Elementary

CFTC implements school feeding program at Chippewas of Nawash First Nation

girls at cape croker_smallCFTC is delighted to announce a new partnership with the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation – a community of about 750 on the Bruce Peninsula, near Wiarton, ON.  In November 2012, we initiated a school feeding program and baseline nutritional study at Cape Croker Elementary School.  The two year pilot  program is intended to lay the foundation for a longer-term nutrition program that reaches beyond the school to include families and the community at large.

The program will provide approximately 80 students with daily lunch and snacks – healthy food, which includes a balance of fruit, vegetables, milk and proteins.  A hot lunch is served to all students two days a week.  The nutrition program is open to all students, which means that there is no stigmatization of students who may need the program more than others.

In its first few months, staff has already noticed a difference in the children.  The Grade 5&6 teacher noted that some of the students in greatest need are embarrassed to ask for food, but when it is available to everyone, he knows that the ones who need it most are getting it.  He also said he has seen increased energy levels in his students in the afternoons, a good sign that the nutritional program is having an impact on learning.

Despite living relatively close to a populated area, the residents of Nawash First Nation experience many of the same issues as other and even more remote First Nations across Canada:  difficulties accessing reasonably priced, nutritious food (there is a convenience store on the reserve, where selection is low and prices high, and the closest full-service grocery store is a half-hour away in Wiarton, where prices are still higher than in larger centres); high unemployment, social and economic issues; and rates of nutrition-related diseases including obesity, cardiovascular and diabetes in excess of the general population.

This project is exciting for CFTC because it includes a nutrition education component. Students participate in meal preparation and learn about good nutrition as a byproduct of that involvement.  Genevieve Drouin, CFTC’s Americas Regional Program Manager, explains that the baseline study is critical.  “Assessing the nutritional needs of the community and gathering key health, nutrition and social indicators will allow us to measure progress towards short- and long-term outcomes and help us know the impact of the school feeding program. We’re looking for increased access to and consumption of nutritious snacks and meals and increased awareness among students of healthy eating.  In Year One of the program, which is a pilot program, we’re also looking for an increase in the strength of the relationship between the school and the community it serves as a basis for longer-term programming in community nutrition.”