More than 95,000 children in the GTA going to school hungry everyday
TORONTO, Sept. 4 /CNW/ - Since January 2006, RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd.
sales representative Carolyn Griffis and the REMAX Hallmark team have raised
funds and rallied volunteers to bring nutrition programs back from the brink
of closure in several local schools.
Since Griffis' involvement, the Student Nutrition Program has
substantially increased the monthly budget and created a full roster of
volunteers that prepare and deliver wholesome breakfasts and snacks each day,
as well as volunteer in the classrooms. To date, over 90 RE/MAX Hallmark
realtors contribute in excess of $36,000 annually to the Student Nutrition
Program. This has allowed her to expand the initiative to additional schools.
"It is simply about giving kids the opportunity to just be kids," says
Griffis. "The Student Nutrition Program is a critical part of these children's
daily nutritional requirements. It was utterly heartbreaking to know that so
many were arriving at school without having food in their stomachs - in some
cases, without dinner the night before. Teachers were sharing stories of
children unable to focus and pay attention in class. Some couldn't even keep
their heads off their desks. It really hits home. Most of us have children of
our own. The thought of them going hungry is unimaginable."
In 2005, Carolyn was looking to help a single family in need when she was
directed to a neighbourhood community resource center. The director mentioned
a Student Nutrition Program that was in dire need of volunteers and funding.
Today, Carolyn Griffis and the RE/MAX Hallmark team help provide 1,400 meals
and snacks each day, which translates into 7,000 weekly or 28,000 monthly at
five schools. Their work has really allowed the kids to thrive. More students
are coming to school on time, with fewer absences overall. Academic
performance has increased and there are fewer behavioural issues.
"The response has been overwhelming and quite emotional," says Durward
Anthony, Nutrition Liaison Officer, Toronto District School Board. "Carolyn
Griffis and the RE/MAX Hallmark team helped raise $30,000 to build a new
kitchen at the First Nations Public School so they could participate in the
Student Nutrition Program. The school principal best summed up the impact of
their efforts by exclaiming: "Is she for real? Are these people for real? This
is a dream come true!"
The Toronto District School Board created the Student Nutrition Program
in 1987 when it became apparent that many children were coming to school
hungry everyday. At the time of amalgamation, there were approximately 111
programs reaching 13,000 students daily across the GTA. Today, there are over
490 programs reaching over 89,000 students daily across the GTA. It is
estimated that 7,000 additional children require a nutrition program this
coming school year.
The main sources of funding for the Student Nutrition Program comes from
the province, the City of Toronto and corporate funding through The Toronto
Foundation for Student for Success. Parents also raise funds through
contributions and fundraising events. The demand for the Student Nutrition
Program is growing at an alarming rate, but the funding is not keeping pace.
As funding decreases the nutritional density of the meals lessen.
"Currently, Municipal and Provincial funding combined only provides an
average of 24 cents per day - not enough to buy a glass of milk," says Mena
Paternostro, Coordinator, Student Nutrition Program, Toronto District School
Board. "That underscores how vital a role volunteers play in the success of
the schools' nutrition programs. They are its lifeblood. An enthusiastic,
reliable team of committed volunteers - as in the case of RE/MAX Hallmark -
will go a long way in making the Student Nutrition Program a success. But even
more, it has an immeasurable influence in the ability of these children to
succeed. They are not only nourishing bodies, they are nourishing young
Financial donations to the Student Nutrition Program can be made securely
by calling 416-394-2115. Cheques can be mailed to The Toronto Foundation for
Student for Success/RE/MAX at 2 Trethewey Drive, 4th Floor, Toronto, Ontario
M6M 4A8. The program is also seeking volunteers on an ongoing basis and
private or corporate partners to help provide pro bono food and supplies. For
more information, call the Nutrition Liaison Office, Toronto District School
Board at 416 394-7303 or 416 394-7159.
RE/MAX is Canada's leading real estate organization with over 17,500
sales associates situated throughout its more than 640 independently owned and
operated offices across the country. The RE/MAX franchise network, now in its
34th year of consecutive growth, is a global real estate system operating in
over 65 countries. More than 7,000 independently owned offices engage 120,000
member sales associates who lead the industry in professional designations,
experience and production while providing real estate services in residential,
commercial, referral, relocation and asset management. For more information,
For further information:
For further information: or to arrange an interview please contact: Eva
Blay/Charlene McAdam/Kim Kofman, Point Blank Communications, (416) 781-3911