MEDICINE HAT – The Brown Bag Lunch program has provided 57,194 lunches to local students so far this school year.
There are 32 schools in and around Medicine Hat that have the meals delivered to help feed kids who may not otherwise have a lunch.
“We make 500 to 700 lunches a day,” said Melissa Mullis, Program Coordinator with the Medicine Hat Food Bank.
Volunteers come in every week day morning at 8:30 to get the meals prepped and made. Each lunch contains either a pea butter (peanut butter alternative) and jelly or meat and cheese sandwich, fruit, fresh vegetables and a snack.
“These people who come every day are like a well oiled machine and it just gets done,” said Mullis. “They’re like little sandwich making robots.”
The food is provided by the Medicine Hat Food Bank through public donations, the vegetables come from RedHat Co-op.
For the kids who receive the meals, Mullis said it makes a big difference in their mood and their ability to learn, because they’re not hungry.
“A child that’s growing up in poverty, having to sit there and look at the other kids eating lunch and not having enough nutrition to learn properly, it’s really important for us to take care of them,” she said.
After visiting Calgary to see how the ‘Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids’ program operated, Mullis said they’ve introduced a new initiative.
Volunteers have now started making home baked goods for the kids once a week. The treats have included anything from rice crispy squares to cereal bars, even cookies.
“We all make the lunches with love, but to have a nice home-baked treat is something that they weren’t getting,” she explained. “So, once a week we have volunteers coming to Hillcrest Church from 11:00-2:00 P.M. and they’re making little treats.”
Mullis said the feedback from the schools has been extremely positive.
“I even got an email from one of the schools saying you should be here when the kids are opening it, they’re so excited and they just feel like they’re loved,” she said.
With the new initiative, the Brown Bag Lunch program is looking for extra volunteers. Individuals, businesses or other groups interested in helping out are encouraged to contact Melissa Mullis by emailing [email protected]
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