By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Mugging for the camera over a container of freshly-baked cookies in the MCHS cafeteria was a light-hearted way to kick off the solution to a serious problem – many Morinville students are going to school without a lunch.
Representatives of the Morinville Midstream Support Society went to the high school Wednesday afternoon to present Sherry Wiley with a cheque for $6,000, money the coordinator of a new school lunch program to be run out of the high school will use to make sure no Morinville student attends afternoon classes with an empty belly.
The program will run Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to start, with volunteer students preparing, packaging and delivering the lunches to the other schools in town.
Wiley said the program currently has 25 Morinville students registered for the lunches, but just who those students are is something Wiley doesn’t know. Recipients of the program will remain anonymous. Schools will provide the program with the numbers of lunches needed and not the names of those who need them.
“I went to the principals of the school and all I asked was numbers,” Wiley said. “Whoever is dropping them off goes to the front office with the bags of lunches and they walk away. They have no idea. I don’t even know the students here [at MCHS]. All I know are the numbers.”
Wiley explained parents who need a lunch for their children need only contact their child’s school.
Midstream Support Society President Joyce Preeper said the anonymity is important to the program because some parents might be uncomfortable stepping forward and making it known that a little help is needed.
Linda Krauskopf, a board member with the Midstream Support Society, said people that need a little help are often working people. “It’s low income people who are struggling to make ends meet,” she said. “That’s what I keep telling people. They say there’s not that many poor in Morinville but they don’t realize what poor means. Poor means they are paying their rent; they’re paying their everyday needs, but anything goes out of whack and they’re off.”
The school lunch program is the rebirth of a program that ran successfully in Morinville in the past. “We had given out bag lunches to Vanier, Notre Dame, and a few to MCHS and Primeau as well,” Preeper said of the original program, adding the initiative ultimately ended because of a lack of volunteer help. “It just got down to the point where there was no manpower.”
Preeper said the program continued on a smaller scale through the donation of juice boxes, granola bars and other non perishable food items to the schools, but the decision to relaunch the full program came about this past summer.
Midstream board member Linda Krauskopf was at a camp with Wiley and mentioned she felt the juice boxes and granola bars were not enough. The two community-minded women, realizing there was a need within Morinville for a fuller school lunch program, put their heads together and decided that MCHS students might just be up to the task.
“When I brought it up to them they were keen,” Wiley said of her students’ willingness to participate. “They thought it was cool that they were helping kids that didn’t have lunches – their peers and even the younger ones. I think they’re taking pride in it right now, and I think they’ll continue to take pride in the fact that they’re helping in the community.”
The $6,000 donation, which is believed will fund the school lunch program for its first six months, came from money raised in the Midstream Support Society’s Community Corner Drop In thrift store. The society takes monies raised in the community through the store and reinvests it into the community where individual and group needs are.
The society also donated $1,000 to the First Morinville Scouts and another $1,000 to Girl Guides Wednesday, monies that will be used by the two youth groups to buy camping supplies.