A typical summer Monday at the Second Harvest warehouse starts early. By 7 a.m., the air is bustling with volunteers prepping vegetables, slicing cheese, packing fruits and forming an assembly line of sandwiches. These will go into the lunch bags for children in summer camps across Toronto as part of our annual Feeding Our Future program.
Bridging the nutrition gap for children during summer
During the academic year, over 211,000 students in Toronto participate in Student Nutrition Programs. The goal is to ensure that all children have access to healthy meals to learn and thrive in school, regardless of their economic situation.
According to recent statistics, there are at least 6.9 million people in Canada experiencing food insecurity in their daily lives, including almost 1.8 million children. This is nearly 20 per cent of the entire population or one out of every five people.
With persistent inflation, nutrition is increasingly out of reach for many people in Canada.
Aiming to bridge the nutritional gap for students relying on school for meals during the year, Second Harvest started Feeding Our Future in 2012. Through the program, we deliver lunch bags to free or subsidized summer camps across Toronto five days a week. Each bag contains a sandwich, fruits, juice and healthy snacks.
“Our deepest gratitude to Second Harvest for the generous provision of healthy and nutritious lunches and snacks for our 135+ camp participants during the seven weeks of our Summer Institute. The daily nutritious lunches and snacks you provided have not only fuelled our campers for their activities but have also instilled valuable lessons about the importance of healthy eating.
Your support has eased the burden on many families who might have otherwise struggled to provide well-balanced meals for their children during their time at camp. Through your generosity, you’ve shown our children that they are valued, that their health matters, and that they deserve the best opportunities possible. Thank you for being an integral part of our camp’s success.” – YAAACE Summer Camp
Building a healthy and balanced meal
The menu changes daily but remains consistent week over week. Children have the option of either a meat or a vegetarian sandwich. To ensure a balanced and inclusive meal, we take several factors into consideration, including avoiding common allergens and ingredients that are dietary restrictions for different religious beliefs (for example, choosing roast beef and turkey over pork).
We also incorporate vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers into the sandwiches and healthy snacks such as oranges, apples or baby carrots.
“I am happy to share my heartfelt testimonial about the camp lunches that Second Harvest provided during the six weeks of our summer camp. These meals were nothing short of a blessing for our campers and staff. The variety and quality of the food were truly remarkable. Each day, they brought a nourishing lunch that contained fresh fruits, vibrant vegetables, and a diverse range of proteins and grains.
What stood out most was how Second Harvest catered to different dietary needs. They seamlessly accommodated allergies, preferences, and cultural considerations, ensuring every camper felt included and valued.” – Lady Ballers Camp
A joint effort to make summer memorable
This year, with the help of 340 volunteers, who spent almost 960 hours prepping and packing the lunch bags, we delivered over 29,000 sandwiches to 22 camp partners across Toronto. A big thank-you to all of our volunteers and summer assistants!
We’re also grateful for the support of our generous sponsors and donors, who have made this program a success. Thank you!!!