Toonies for Tummies reappeared this year and it will be making a difference for hungry children in the area.
The initiative, sponsored by The Grocery Foundation, took place Feb.1-15, with proceeds from participating stores helping elementary schools within the postal area that require the funds.
Jenny Gotting, head cashier at the Morningside Sobeys, oversaw the program at the store and says customer donations have been steady, but not astounding.
“At this store, it’s not like it used to be many, many years ago. People just don’t want to pay extra,” she says.
Gotting says many customers believe they’ve already donated to other grocery stores, especially the Wal-Mart located nearby.
“Previously, so many of the other companies never used to do it. Now, every company is signing up because it’s being advertised so widely,” Gotting says.
While she admits Toonies for Tummies received successful reactions last year, another program running at the store did terribly.
An elementary school that could use the help from the Toonies is Military Trail Public School.
“We’re considered relatively high on the Learning Opportunities Index (level of need), so we would be considered for those types of programs,” says Principal Ken Morden.
Currently, the school hosts a breakfast program run by facilities in the community. Many children feed through the program each morning to fill their tummies.
Some don’t even attend Military Trail Public School, including many from Mornell Court apartment buildings.
Morden says he sees numerous signs of child hunger at his school.
“If they can’t focus because they haven’t eaten breakfast that day, or it’s obvious they don’t have a lunch, we would feed them [through the breakfast program],” he says.
The school has ways to combat child hunger. They’ve created specialized programs where they invite parents for sessions with the Health Department to talk about nutrition and healthy meal choices.
They have also built connections to social agencies to ensure that families with financial or other needs are equipped with the proper resources.
“We also have a snack program as well to ensure that the kids are receiving healthy snacks throughout the day,” Morden adds.