Community-based organizations in Manitoba will lead a new home nutrition program designed to help more than 6,000 children across the province.
Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced the $2.5-million home nutrition and learning pilot program on Monday at the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre in Winnipeg.
“Our government believes that nutritious food and meal preparation can bring families closer together, and this investment will provide that opportunity to thousands of children and families experiencing food disruption because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
“Through the home nutrition and learning pilot program, we will connect thousands of children and their families with nutritious food, family-focused recipes and learning activities over the coming months.”
About 2,500 families will receive packages of healthy foods, along with recipes and learning activities that have been developed by the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba.
The educational resources will also be available online to support families as they spend time together learning about food, nutrition and meal preparation, Stefanson said.
“Learning to cook at home is an invaluable life skill,” she said.
“Reading a recipe, measuring ingredients and making food together at home encourages literacy, numeracy and many other skills. We hope the home nutrition and learning pilot program will provide parents with additional opportunities to connect with their children in a fun, shared activity.”
The program will be delivered by the following organizations:
- Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre.
- Andrews Street Family Centre in Winnipeg.
- Samaritan House in Brandon.
- Food Matters Manitoba in Cross Lake.
- Bayline Regional Round Table in Thicket Portage, Pikwitonei, Ilford/War Lake and Wabowden.
“Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre provides basic emergency food kits to hundreds of low-income families every week, and this investment will help us provide more nutritious foods to children and families in need,” said Diane Redsky, executive director of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata.
“These emergency food kits consist of a fresh sandwich, fruit, granola bar, juice box along with baby items and hygiene when needed. We hoped and prayed that one day we can improve on these emergency food kits to include things our families were asking for for their children — milk, eggs, fresh vegetables, cereal and more options for fresh fruit.”
Monday’s announcement “does just that,” she said.
The pilot program will launch in Winnipeg this week and in other communities in early July, running until the end of September in all locations.
The community organizations will use their connections with families who have school-aged children and are experiencing food disruption due to the pandemic, she said.
“Andrews Street Family Centre has been providing 120 to 150 hot lunches to our community since COVID-19 began, and this pilot program will allow the centre to support another 50 to 60 families with nutritious food, learning material and menus,” said executive director Dilly Knol.
“Learning to cook together as a family through this pilot program may introduce different foods that families might not have purchased in the past. We hope this will lead to families buying and preparing more nutritious food together.”
An evaluation will take place after the pilot to “determine next steps,” Stefanson said.
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