Select Page

Summer Smiles

Since mid-March everything has changed dramatically regarding the need for healthy food for students who would normally rely on our student nutrition programs at school. Since the schools closed their doors, we have revised how we do deliver food to meet this need with a mobile “Pop Up Snack” program. This summer the need for healthy food will continue to be a concern for many families and Nutrition for Learning will continue their POPUP SNACK program.

Children across Waterloo Region need us now, more than ever. This is a difficult time and the reality is many families in our community are struggling to put food on the table. We started the first week by distributing 100 bags a week and it has quickly grown to 500 bags per day and continues to grow. As well we continue to hear from teachers about the concern and the need of students who rely on our programs in their communities.

Our Pop-Up Snack Program distributes approximately 500 bags with a selection of food items that were normally available to students when Nutrition for learning programs were still in the schools such as yogurt, cheese, applesauce, healthy crackers, or cereal etc. A bag is offered to each student in a family in attendance at that location and consists of enough snacks for several days.

In addition to the snack bags and when available, we are distributing some extra food items to families such as canned beans, loaf of bread, chicken noodle soup etc. These items are not offered all the time and are only meant to enhance the snack bags. If families need more support due to food insecurity, they are directed to contact the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.

There is no registration or ID required to receive a healthy snack bag. Only one person per family is required to show up to the Pop-Up Snack location, although all family members are welcome to come out to make it an outing.

Along with providing food, the pop-up food delivery gives children a “sense of normalcy” because they recognize the trucks and aprons from school visits, and they know the people handing out the bags. “This provides a comfort level that helps children feel safe and fed, and families calm and for those parents who have lost their job due to closures during the pandemic, money is tight right now. It’s a small piece of the answer, but it’s an important piece,” – Mary D’Alton- Director of Strategic Initiatives and Operations Our pop up locations are shared via social media daily and available online at

St. Gregory School Spotlight

Mother Daughter Team

“Making a difference at St. Gregory School”

When Julie Silva (coordinator of the St. Gregory Nutrition Program) is not busy at the school ordering, organizing and helping to prepare the healthy bins for each classroom, she is a busy “Regulatory Compliance Officer” in the healthcare field. Her skills do shine with her volunteer work and it is quickly evident during our interview that she is extremely hardworking, organized, detail oriented, analytical and very caring mother and volunteer. She traditionally spends approximately 5 to 6 hours a week at St. Gregory School and has enlisted her daughter to help 3 days a week assisting with organizing, receiving orders, packaging and distributing food.
Alongside the mother-daughter team, there are two other volunteers who generously help two days a week as well as additional volunteer help from the Educational Assistants and approximately six student volunteers, which is deeply appreciated by Julie and her team.
Julie was proud to state that “Student volunteers are an essential piece of the support of the programs and help to ensure the collection of program usage data vital to its continued success.”
The student nutrition program has been a part of the school community for over ten years. Mrs. Jacqueline Barry initiated a breakfast program at the school in 2008 and the school switched over to the bins in the classroom program several years after that. THANK YOU very much to Mrs. Barry for caring and sharing breakfast with the students of St. Gregory.
Success Story – When asked of a success story of the program Julie was quick to answer “Developing a system to monitor and adapt the nutrition program to the community needs as well as dislikes, likes and concerns such as allergies and sensitivities. “
What is the Impact of the program at St. Gregory? – We are proud to be able to provide day-long universal access and many of the students do rely on the program to meet their daily needs.
School Fundraising for the program – St. Gregory hosts two special family Movie Nights a year to raise funds to support their program.
St. Gregory is looking for help to prepare individual packaged portions during the week and if you have time and wish to volunteer at St. Gregory please contact Erin at Nutrition for Learning for more information. 519-624-5744

Julie Silva Program coordinator


Crestview School Spotlight

Two Sisters Making A Difference

Meet Judy McKay the coordinator of the Crestview Public School student nutrition program and her sister Anne who are making a real difference in the lives of so very many students at school.   Judy heard of a very emotional and heart tugging story of child who did not have breakfast because it wasn’t his turn and Judy decided then she would help with the program.  Judy enlisted her sister and other volunteers to help with the student nutrition program at the school.

The program runs during each nutrition break at 11:05 am and 1:45 pm with a mixture of grains, dairy, fruits and vegetables for the students to have universal access to during the school day.  Volunteers start an about one hours before  the first break to bag and prepare the bins and the tables for the program. Judy and her team believe consistency in availability is extremely important for students to feel secure that  something is available to them.  Teachers share when someone may need a little for the day for various reasons and a special lunch bag is quickly arranged and shared to those in need that day.

If there is one way to describe Judy other than caring and supportive, she is extremely organized and apparent when visiting the preparation area and her office/fridge with schedules and plans for the week.

Thank you to everyone who volunteers, supports and shares with the student nutrition program at Crestview.

Sandowne School Spotlight

Sandowne – Building Community & Future Leaders

Within minutes of meeting Joanna Albers the student nutrition program coordinator and Core French teacher at Sandowne Public school you quickly realize youJoanna Albers are with someone who has passion for her school, her students and the power of the Nutrition for Learning program.  This year the school moved away from outside volunteers to staff volunteers with the support of 15 student volunteers. Joanna is leading a team of 3 school staff organizing and overseeing the nutrition program for all grades JK to 6 in 15 classrooms.

The program runs 5 days a week and approximately 100 students access the nutrition baskets daily.  Tuesday after school staff and students bag and sort the various food items for distribution and then each morning at the first nutrition break at 11:15 am students will fill the baskets appropriately and distribute them to the classrooms.  At the end of the second nutrition break students will retrieve all of the baskets.  Joanna is very good at organizing and each day is color coded and labelled not only for the fridge items but also the daily menus.

Joanna and her team believe in growing leaders, students can apply to be a volunteer in Grade 4 and continue on until Grade 6 where they truly mentor the younger volunteers in the program.  The school also reached out on how to be environmentally friendly and the ECO team was formed called the “ECO Stars” who made several suggestions that have been incorporated into their programs including the use of paper bags for cereal and crackers as well as suggesting apples vs apple sauce to reduce waste.

There were challenges at the beginning of the year navigating volume however with welcomed quick feedback from staff and students they could adjust quickly to appropriate quantities.  Understanding what is most appropriate as well as welcomed food items was a part of their surveys and she continues to adjust as options become available.



When asked about THE IMPACT of the program in the classroom Joanna was quick to answer with the answer that students are very much:

  • Students ore attentive in the classroom
  • Students are excited about having healthy options
  • Students look forward to the program as soon as they return from summer and other holiday breaks
  • Teachers shared that the apples first thing in the morning are very much welcomed and appreciated by students who didn’t have breakfast before school

Joanna states that ” Creating the leadership team and developing new skills as volunteers at school and watching them all come together for the same cause,  I consider a real success for the program.  As well we are building a positive caring community at school where students never feel any shame accessing the food in the programs. We are very grateful for our program not just for the food but also the opportunity to develop new leaders.”

Local Hero

Not every hero wears a cape. Heroic deeds don’t have to involve super strength or invisibility…just like Cathy Pither. Check it out, Brady & Tara award another Local Hero award!

Cathy Pither Local Hero…/brady-tara-award-another-local-hero

Special thanks to the Waterloo Regional Police Association, it’s because of you we can recognize people who make a

difference every day in our community!



Local Hero

Student Volunteer

Tayla Leythorpe, a grade 5 student in Waterloo has done a Lemonade sale, from her family’s home driveway, for the last three summers to raise money to support Nutrition for Learning.

Tayla was visiting a Waterloo school her mother, Libby Leythorpe teaches at and asked, “what are these bins full of food for?”  Libby explained that Nutrition for Learning provides the students at her school with a healthy food in each classroom in case a student gets hungry and needs a snack.  Tayla wondered why the students couldn’t just grab a snack from their lunch bags.  Libby went on to explain that sometimes students don’t bring enough food to get them through the whole day and sometimes if they do have enough in their lunches it is not as healthy as the snacks from the bin.

Tayla liked that Nutrition for Learning was providing students with these snacks and fixing these issues so kids didn’t have to worry about being hungry and they could just be kids.  Tayla could relate to feeling hungry and need a snack because she has her hunger moments after dance practice and before first nutrition break.   Tayla loves that Nutrition for learning feeds kids so their brains can learn and decided she wanted to raise money to help them.

Tayla thought the idea to have a Lemonade sale in front of her house in the summer would help her raise some money for Nutrition for Learning.  “I like knowing I can raise enough money to make change in my community”

Tayla is a bright, sweet considerate young lady.  She is quick to help others and hates to see people frown.  She just wants everyone to be happy.  This is why she has decided to donate all the money she raises each summer to Nutrition for Learning “Even a smile is a donation to a person cause your making another person smile”