There are 196 school days in a year. Our goal is to provide 250 food-insecure children with a free, daily lunch resulting in close to 50,000 meals for the 2022/2023 academic year. At roughly $2.50 per meal, our program will cost approximately $125,000 annually. Gifts of the Heart relies on bulk food donations, purchased food items, and volunteer meal prep/delivery, to keep our meal costs affordable.


The lunch prep magic happens through the generous donation of a commercial kitchen space and a dream team of kitchen volunteers. Presently, the team prepares 250 daily warm, nutritious meals for Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. On Tuesday and Thursday they prepares deli-style sandwiches for school lunches. Delivery of meals to schools is also covered by helpful volunteers. Meals are prepared with food items sourced from the Brantford Food Bank, food rescue initiatives, community pantries, and essential purchased items facilitated by generous donations from the public.


In 2021, apart from our school lunch program, we wanted to do something a little extra for kids who experienced acute food insecurities in their home life. We could feed them something through the school week, but wanted to help make sure they got enough sustenance to see them through the weekends as well. Staff at two Brantford schools were able to help assess needs of certain students and give us an idea of how many kids could benefit from weekend support. A small space at Major Ballachey PS was donated to Gifts of the Heart to use for sorting and storing pantry and clothing items. With that we began putting together 24+ weekend food bags containing donated and purchased food items. Kids were sent home with weekend bags every Friday knowing that there would be enough food for them to have and share with family members.


When the 2021-2022 school year was coming to a close, we started to worry about some of our most vulnerable kids. We were able to provide lunch and weekend bag support to so many kids during the school year, but what would the summer months look like? With inflation affecting everyone's grocery bills, we wanted to support those most in need through the summer. With this idea we polled some schools in the city asking educators if they had concerns about certain kids or families. With the consent from families, we were able to connect with, assess the needs and support close to 20 families throughout the summer. Depending on the number of family members, we would put together Family Food Bins containing donated and purchase food and hygiene items, diapers, wipes, cleaning products… anything we could add in to make life a little easier. Items were donated from the food bank, food rescue initiatives, community pantries, and some items were purchased for the pantry through generous donations from the public.


For single parents with multiple children experiencing poverty, this was an especially helpful program. Not only did they have to figure out where their next meal was coming from, but they didn’t have to worry about when and how to make it to a food bank or pantry day since their bins were delivered directly to their doorstep. Relieving some of the pressure from guardians allows them to focus on what is most important and improves the family dynamic imeasurably.


As a team of volunteers, we’ve been working to revive the Wish Closet at Major Ballachey PS. This was a very successful charitable endeavour led by Betty Findlay in the past. Though our operation pales in comparison to Betty’s once formidable free clothing and houseware pantry, we hope to build capacity and be able to offer free clothing to even more kids. At the moment, we’re collecting items and planning free clothing bazaars to get what’s needed out into the community... especially ever-so-vital warm winter gear.

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