Save-On-Foods has committed $500,000 toward their $1 million fundraising goal aimed at giving kids easier access to school meal supports during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With an estimated one in five school-aged kids in Canada relying on school-based nutrition programs, school closures mean many Canadian kids are unsure where their next meal will come from. Schools and community groups throughout Western Canada are working with parents to ensure vulnerable kids get the support they need, and Save-On-Foods and its partners are stepping up to help.

Over the last three years, by participating in The Grocery Foundation’s Toonies for Tummies program, Save-On-Foods and its customers have made donations which have enabled over 250,000 meals to kids at school made possible through programs delivered by Breakfast Club of Canada.

Now, customers can donate $2 or 500 More Rewards points at the till of any Save-On-Foods, PriceSmart Foods or Urban Fare locations store, and the company will match up to a total of $500,000. Donations can be made in-store, or online through Breakfast Club of Canada, Backpack Buddies or I Can for Kids digital platforms.

Funds raised will be donated to Breakfast Club of Canada (the Club), which helps feed more than 243,500 children and youth in 1,809 schools across the country each year. The Club will in turn distribute funding and support to schools, community organizations, and other partners mobilized to get food supports to these kids as quickly and efficiently as possible.

All money raised locally stays local—that means each community will be helping kids right in their local areas.

“As we ramp up efforts to support an increasing number of Canadian families facing food insecurity, this generous commitment to raise $1 million is a timely blessing,” said Breakfast Club of Canada President & Founder, Daniel Germain. “We are grateful for the continued support from Save-On-Foods, and we look forward to supporting their efforts to accelerate true community partnerships to solve this problem. We are proud that we have been entrusted with ensuring these funds and resources are put to their best and highest use.”

To support this work, and in response to requests for guidance, programming support, donations and food from a growing number of schools and grassroots community partners, Save-On-Foods has mobilized the talent of partner organizations known for their skills and well-established best practices in delivering these services in British Columbia year-round. From procurement to program delivery to logistics, the team has assembled quickly to assist in accelerating the delivery of a sustainable solution.

In addition to Breakfast Club of Canada, partners in this coordination effort include Food Banks BC, Backpack Buddies, I Can for Kids in Calgary, BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation, The Grocery Foundation, and Food Mesh.

“We know that kids need nutritious meals and we are absolutely committed to helping these organizations continue their critical mission despite school closures. The work our community partners do to feed young Canadians is so important,” said Save-On-Foods President Darrell Jones. “We are grateful to Breakfast Club of Canada and our other partners who have joined forces with us to support our schools and students. I know our customers share our commitment to our communities and will blow us away with their generosity.”

“Right now needs are surging and we can’t let our kids down,” said Backpack Buddies Co-Founder Emily-anne King. “Backpack Buddies is uniquely positioned to get food into the hands of those who need it most, on the ground, through our dozens of partnerships with local schools. These funds will ease the fears of hungry families, who know we’ll be there to help them through the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We appreciate the long-time support of Save-On Foods, who understood our mission and have supported us from the beginning,” said I Can for Kids Executive Director Bobbi Turko. “I Can for Kids was formed to help feed hungry kids during the summer months when they can no longer access school nutrition programs, and because of this global crisis, their summer break has started months ahead of schedule. With help from Save-On-Foods and Breakfast Club of Canada, I Can for Kids and our agency partners can safely deliver more support to kids in need wherever they are in our community today, and in the weeks and months ahead.”

 “These exceptional times have prompted an exceptional response from grocery retailers to help hungry kids, including this current effort by Save-On-Foods which will help them continue to access vital nutrition. There’s every likelihood we will also have an even greater number of hungry children who will require support when school resumes. We’re grateful to the public that have supported efforts to date and will continue to prioritize children at this time of need,” said Shaun McKenna, Executive Director, The Grocery Foundation.

 BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation has developed a strong collaborative approach with farmers, distributors, health and education partners for sustainable delivery of healthy BC grown fruit, vegetables and milk to over 90% of schools around the province for over 15 years,” remarked Executive Director Pat Tonn. “Kids need nutrition to grow, learn and prosper, and we are proud to partner with organizations and people who make that happen.”

 “Every month in BC close to 100,000 individuals regularly need the services of our community food banks,” said Laura Lansink, Executive Director, Food Banks BC. “Of these 1 in every 3 is a child. Healthy nutritious food is vital to every child to give them the best chance of success in life. Food banks are working to ensure no child ever has to face hunger and we are pleased to be able to lend our resources, including advice and programming support, to this coordinated effort to get immediate relief to school children facing a new, urgent and unique need.”  

“We believe food insecurity in BC is avoidable, and fixable when we all work together. Our role at FoodMesh is devoted to using technology to safely match good food to where it’s needed most, helping an online network of 500+ businesses rescue and distribute more than 350,000+ meals each month via our platform,” said Jessica Regan, CEO, FoodMesh.