Supporting nutrition through the summer months

For kids, summer is supposed to be full of lazy mornings, campfires, beach or pool days. For families living in deep poverty, summer can also mean children going hungry. In the absence of school and the school nutrition programs they rely on, many families spread grocery budgets even thinner or skip meals altogether.

We know proper nutrition is crucial for health and healthy development. According to Statistics Canada, in some municipalities as many as 1 in 5 children live in families experiencing poverty. Thousands of these children have limited – sometimes no – access to food during the summer months without food programs.

“When you struggle to put food on the table, you sometimes don’t get to choose what you’re going to eat. The food packages we receive give a little bit of choice back to my kids, and I couldn’t be more thankful.” – Parent

Their parents want to ensure they have food on the table, but sometimes they simply can’t make ends meet. That’s why programs like Food4Kids Summers Without Hunger exist. The program focuses on providing healthy food to families who are struggling financially when school nutrition programs are not running.

To further increase food access and neighbourhood connections, United Way is working to expand the reach and frequency of Community Pop-up Produce Markets. These markets bring communities together and provide affordable access to healthy food in a dignified way. Residents can visit the market and purchase their choice of foods, in the quantities that work for their family, for well below retail cost.

Vegetables harvested from the Vineland Garden Hub for local fresh food markets.

Vegetables harvested from the Vineland Garden Hub for local fresh food markets.

“Thank you for providing this fresh food market to Genesis court, especially with the higher prices at the grocery stores after the pandemic and inflation. So extremely appreciated by lower income households. Thanks again.” 

Over the last few months, markets have distributed more than 115,000 pounds of fresh food to families in more than 25 neighbourhoods in Niagara.

“Sometimes I find it hard to socialize with people in the building because we share different cultures and have different interests. With the market I am able to meet new people in my building and come to gather as a community. Thank you for all your help.”

United Way is proud to support food programs in Niagara. Together we are working towards a community where every child, adult and family has not only enough to eat, but the right foods, regardless of their situation.