The soup kitchen in Steinbach is prepared to keep operating two lunch programs that help feed children in the area.
The School Lunch Program will continue to operate at schools in the Hanover School Division while the Family Lunch Program will also be running through Soup’s On in Steinbach.
When the 2022-23 school year ended in June, the Family Lunch program was supporting 140 children each day with full lunches.
And Joy Neufeld says approximately 225 children were supported through the school lunch program.
It was becoming just an overwhelming program, and we need to make sure that we can sustain this,” she says. “This isn't the program we want to say in six months from now, ‘sorry, we can't do this.’ We want to be able to have a program that we can sustain, get a good handle on what it is we're doing and what we have to do to feed the kids.”
Neufeld says food insecurity is very real for many families in the southeast. She appreciates the cooperation of the staff in Hanover schools who help distribute lunch food items to students who need a bit more to eat.
In an effort to better match supplies to the demand, families accessing the Family Lunch Program will be asked to register.
Through this program, families can pick up lunch food from the soup kitchen.
“The families pick up a week's worth of lunch supplies to make for their children,” Neufeld explains. “Their children can take a lunch to school in their backpack like most of the rest of the kids. The Family Lunch Program has become really important, especially for some of the older children where the humility and the embarrassment of being identified as the soup kitchen kid can be a barrier to them accepting something to eat. So, the family lunch program has become important for those reasons.”
In spring, before the school year ended, Neufeld was devastated that they had to turn families away from receiving lunch as the demand had grown faster than the organization.
Since then, financial support has come through the Taste of Summer Charity BBQ where $8,200 was raised for the two lunch programs.
Another $8,000 came through the 2023 Local Leaders Initiative with Neufeld was one of four finalists in the national campaign.
To help keep these programs running, keeping up with increasing need, financial donations are being accepted. Visit their website at steinbachsoupson.com to find out more information about accessing the lunch programs, and supporting them.
Neufeld says we live in a very generous community with great supporters who are helping make sure every child has enough to eat.