Special to Langley Advance Times
Everyday staff at Douglas Park Community School in Langley set-up tables and pack up lunch bags filled with nutritious food items.
Staff will sort through typical things most school-aged children like to have in their lunch boxes, such as granola bars and juice boxes.
It’s all part of the school’s Grab-and-Go meal program and is one of the food support programs taking place across the Langley school district.
The elementary school acknowledges that this is a challenging time for everyone in the Langley community.
Principal Diana Wilk says the school has invited some students and their families who may benefit from the program.
“This is crucial for our families to get the food they need in a time when families are struggling with so many things, and simple things like grocery shopping cause stress and anxiety. This takes one worry off their plate,” explains Wilk.
The program launched last week with the support of several churches and business in the community.
More than 60 students dropped by to grab the lunch bags, some coming along with their younger siblings.
This week the school has expanded it to some families from neighbouring Nicomekl Elementary. As with any school site set-up across the district, there are measures and procedures in place to ensure health, safety, and physical distancing guidelines are being observed.
Wilk says the response from families has been positive.
“They love it! They tell us that it gives them a reason to get out and walk as a family, they get to see some familiar faces at the school, and get a meal all at the same time. The kids are so happy to see that the school looks the same, and some of the same people are around ready with a greeting and a smile.”
When asked what this program means to her school community, Wilk responds with a heartfelt message:
“This is about so much more than just feeding kids. It is hard to imagine how our young students are processing everything that has changed in their world. It must be so unsettling and at times scary for them. Being able to come to the school, even for a short pick up provides some stability and reassurance. Our connections and relationships with our families and students are more important than ever.”
The program is just as beneficial to adults as it is for children during this unprecedented time, Wilk adds.
“This is important for the parents, too. Everyone is so isolated right now that even a quick interaction with people that you know care about you is so valuable.”
Another initiative, the district is working with the Langley School District Foundation in providing $50 grocery store gift cards for families that need the help.
Schools such as Langley Meadows and Shortreed Community Elementary have been handing out non-perishables and lunch snacks to families, in addition to the provided gift cards.
So far, the foundation and district are assisting 600 families as part of this program.
To learn more about this Food For Thought program and making a donation, please visit the foundation’s website.