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Charity addresses food insecurity for young children

An estimated 1,000 children across Muskoka need food every weekend, as the rising costs of food, gas, and housing have outstripped many families’ ability to cope.

Food4Kids Muskoka launched in September 2023 with the mission of raising awareness of the issues of food insecurity for elementary school-aged children (ages 4-13) living in rural and remote regions of Muskoka, and to provide nutritious food bags to ensure “Weekends Without Hunger.”

In its first nine months, Food4Kids Muskoka grew from feeding seven children at one school to providing healthy food bags to 200 children at 14 schools. It is continuing to scale to meet the increasing demand.

“When I first learned there were more than 1,000 children experiencing food insecurity every weekend, I was shocked,” says Kristie Shaver, who helps spearhead the program locally alongside Sarah Thatcher.

“The statistics are disheartening, but our goal of feeding all these kids in Muskoka is attainable. We live in a very generous community, and many businesses, individuals and philanthropists have already stepped in to help us make a huge difference in the lives of these kids.”

Food4Kids Muskoka is mobilizing a community of volunteers to raise awareness and financial resources to address and scale the program to meet the increased need.

Weekends are a time when children might not have access to food, due to challenging life circumstances that are entirely beyond their control. The “Weekends Without Hunger” program provides them with 12-15 nutritious food items each weekend.

“Without proper food during their formative years, kids do not have the energy needed to grow, learn and play as kids should,” says Sarah.

“The 48-hour gap on the weekend was an area that was not being addressed. I investigated successful initiatives in different regions in Ontario and launched Food4Kids Muskoka to meet the need and give kids the basics that they need to succeed at school, at home and in the wider community.”

Food4Kids Muskoka is a registered charity and relies on generous donations from caring community members. Supporters can help by volunteering, donating financially, and following, liking, and sharing the organization’s social media posts.

TEXT MATT DRISCOLL
PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN

www.Food4KidsMuskoka.ca

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