New Muskoka kids’ charity seeks help from Lake of Bays to help feed kids in need
Lake of Bays Council received a request for support to help feed kids in need, in the September 12, 2023, meeting.
Founder of the new charity, Food 4 Kids, Sarah Thatcher, expressed concern about the removal of the breakfast programs at the local schools, due to Covid, and is trying to fill the gap.
She said, “There’s really a 5-to-10-year cycle for things to get back to the way they were.” She added, “We are a stop gap. We know that this is not changing any systematic issues.”
Thatcher indicated that during a discussion with Huntsville General Surgeon, Doctor Roy Kirkpatrick, he likened her charity efforts to meeting what needs immediate attention. He said, “Sara, while there are symptoms, we treat the symptoms.”
The goal of Food 4 Kids is to ensure that kids are fed and nourished, “so they can do better at school, in academic outcomes, behaviour outcomes, and that will improve with healthy food,” said Thatcher.
Being a former teacher for nine years, she has seen the impact. She said, “There’s a lot of things happening inside schools that a lot of people are not fully aware of. Food security is one of these.”
The charity offers a discreet way to help feed kids, by partnering with the schools and having the food tucked it into a child’s backpack, unbeknownst to their peers, to protect them from stigmas related to needing assistance.
The food is distributed each Friday so that kids have food for the weekend, a time where they may be too isolated to ask for help.
Thatcher said that she realized there was an issue pre-Covid. She explained, “I was driving behind a bus going to school, and I saw this little guy come out of his house, which up until that point I thought was uninhabited. In my opinion it was uninhabitable, and I pictured him coming home on a Friday at 4pm to a home potentially with no food.” She added that the home being isolated means he would also potentially have no access to food on the weekend.
The program costs the charity $15 per backpack or $700 for a child for a whole school year.
The food program is currently launching at Huntsville Public School, Pine Glen, and Spruce Glen in Huntsville. They are hoping to expand once they have the funding to do so.
The charity asked Council to donate $10,000 to help fund the program.
Mayor, Terri Glover, said, “I’m hoping to get folks out to this group because there’s a lot of asks to see how we can best serve our community in Lake of Bays helping people.”
Glover acknowledged the magnitude of effort it takes and indicated that he could relate because of a school pasta day program he was involved with from his former restaurant. He added, “This is really great. This is about doing great stuff and that I think is why we’re really truly here.”
Glover advised that staff have noted the request and will consider it at budget time, and he expressed appreciation “for opening up our eyes to this.”