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OSNP Southwestern Region’s Emergency Response to COVID-19

June 11, 2020

Author: Marissa Lustri, RD, MPH, Program Assistant at Nutrition Connections.

With the closure of educational institutions due to COVID-19, the Ontario Student Nutrition Program (OSNP) Southwestern Region made the decision to reallocate the funding for their Student Nutrition Programming (SNP) to an initiative called the ‘Good Food Box.’ The new initiative was created as an emergency measure that would allow vulnerable children and youth to access nutritious food. In addition to the food provided, families were also given grocery store gift cards and food literacy resources. These food literacy resources consisted of “information sheets on local produce, local farmer profiles, recipes, food literacy activities and other healthy-food resources, handouts, cooking tips and recipes”1.

“Food literacy is not part of OSNP’s mandate,” according to Danielle Findlay, a coordinator at the ONSP Southwestern Region. “However, we have some discretionary funding and a generous grant from the Trillium Foundation that allow us to give it some focus.”

The idea behind the ‘Good Food Box’ was to support families to “get back to the basics” during the pandemic. This initiative helps families “use the time as an opportunity to reconnect and use food as a way to bring everyone together.” By providing children and youth with a variety of resources (i.e. a variety of different foods, recipes, food literacy activities, etc.) it encourages them and shows them that participating in food preparation at home is “a fun way to learn without needing to be ‘actively taught.’”

The Southwestern Region ‘Good Food Box’ initiative helps to foster food literacy in childhood and strengthen participants’ foundation for healthy eating.

The team at OSNP is currently working on providing food literacy resources to the schools in their community to encourage students continued learning. The resources include those developed by OSNP, Real Food for Real Kids, and YTV’s Food Nation.

The Southwestern Region continues to do fantastic food literacy work, such as distributing ‘Vegetable Garden Starter Growing Kits,’ and preparing to roll-out their new ‘Farm-to-School’ meal program that will be launching later this year. Sign up for Nutrition Connections News In Brief and Monthly Newsletter to read more about their work in future blog posts.  

For more information and to stay up to date visit OSNP Southwestern Regions webpage.

If you are interested in learning more about food literacy, check out one of Nutrition Connections food literacy reports linked below.

  1. Food Literacy Programming in Ontario: A Focus on Programs Offered to Children, Youth, Parents and Caregivers
  2. Effective Education Strategies to Increase Food and Nutrition Knowledge in Children and Youth
  3. Effective Approaches to Increase Food Skills in Children, Youth, and their Parents
  4. Policies that Influence Food Literacy among Children and Youth in Ontario

References

  1. Di Felice, J. (2020). Online Food Literacy Resources for Children & Youth. Retrieved from: https://sustainontario.com/2020/04/29/online-food-literacy-resources-for-children-youth/