Central City Foundation donors help Vancouver kids thrive during school breaks with kitchen equipment.
Food insecurity is a major problem in British Columbia and one in six children live in households where stable, nutritious meals are not guaranteed. These children rely on lunch programs at their school, but when school is out, so is their ability to access the nutrition they need to grow and develop.
Kidsafe provides an essential service to inner city children who are in need of a safe and stimulating place to eat, play and learn during Spring, Summer and Winter breaks. They feed over 350 kids in six different schools across Vancouver who might otherwise not receive the nutrition they need.
“There is a lot of vulnerability in our communities and we live in an incredibly difficult city to live in financially, where just paying rent can be very challenging for families.” said Rob Parry, Executive Director of Kidsafe.
“Kids face a lot of challenges in getting their educational needs met, especially when parents rely on grandparents to take care of kids when school closes and many of these families face issues with food literacy and security, so Kidsafe meets those needs that the school provides throughout the year when school closes,” he adds.
Kidsafe Chef Ray Deguzman is responsible for feeding a healthy breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack to about 80 kids per day during school breaks. The kitchen equipment he had been using to feed these hungry mouths was a mishmash of donated household pots and pans, mix and match utensils and appliances meant for small batches of food.
“The equipment was pretty much hand me downs from people’s homes,” said Ray. “I was cooking small amounts of pasta with tiny pots and worn out pans.”
Ray works out of Queen Alexandra Elementary School on Clark and Broadway. The school provides him and his team with space, a small kitchen with an oven and fridges, but Kidsafe must provide any other necessities.
Central City Foundation donors funded the purchase of new kitchen equipment for Kidsafe, which will be used throughout the six locations. The grant allowed Ray to purchase commercial grade pots and pans, utensils and equipment like a food processor. Now he can make large batches of food quickly, efficiently and safely.
“This is the first time we worked with Central City Foundation in this way and it’s a really exciting partnership for us to have,” said Parry “It’s just made such a huge difference for us to be able to deliver an essential part of our services and we’re really really grateful.”
Children growing up in the inner city face barriers to proper development and as Vancouver becomes an increasingly unaffordable city for families, more children face food insecurity. Without proper nutrition those children face even greater barriers to growth.
“We really see a big difference and we hear it from the school community as well,” said Parry. “Teachers let us know that they are seeing an increase in readiness for school at the end of the break, more emotional equilibrium and the children easily adapt to the structure of the school day. It really does make a huge difference.”
Central City Foundation is committed to helping children and youth grow and live healthy, vibrant lives. We fund community partners like Phil Bouvier Family Centre, Urban Native Youth Association, the DEWY program for youth recovering from addiction, Singing Frog Daycare and many more. We are proud to call Kidsafe our community partner.
“Working with the kids that we serve is a really huge privilege,” said Parry. “We work with really great kids who deserve the chance to thrive and reach their potential throughout the school breaks, as well as during the school year. Having the equipment to be able to support them to do that is a huge joy for us and it really is intensely gratifying for the staff to see the difference that were able to make. We know this is going to have a ripple effect throughout their entire lives and the support Central City Foundation was able to provide really makes a difference.”