As calendars turn to October, many people turn their thoughts to giving.
The FirstOntario Credit Union is one of them. They have donated $250,000 to not-for-profit agencies across its communities to support healthy snacks in schools for the 2020/2021 school year.
Access to nutritious food is critical in giving young students the boost they need to support a full day of learning — no matter where they are learning.
FirstOntario has been a dedicated partner with local groups like Niagara Nutrition Partners, BrantFood for Thought, Halton Food for Thought, Haldimand-Norfolk REACH (Child Nutrition Network), Southwestern Public Health and the Hamilton Bulldogs Foundation since 2014 and has given close to $1.7 million to date.
Dave Schurman, chief operating officer at FirstOntario, said student attrition was one of the areas that affected every one of the places they did business.
Since 2014, the credit union has helped provide food for students.
“They need proper nutrition to learn properly,” said Schurman. “It levels the playing field when everyone is being treated equally.”
Schurman said in total they help around 68,000 kids in total. They support 96 schools across Niagara.
He said around 200, about half, of the staff volunteer for different initiatives including this food program.
“We know the need is always there, perhaps this year — during the pandemic — more than ever. As a credit union we strive to make an impact in our communities, and reach as many kids as we can,” said Lloyd Smith, chief executive officer at FirstOntario.
“We’re happy to provide these funds, but our volunteers are also there, happy to prepare and serve when needed.”
The funds provided will be used to purchase supplies, pre-packaged snacks, increase program delivery and potentially introduce food hubs through community kitchen spaces.
FirstOntario Blue Wave volunteer employees are usually at schools helping to get the snacks to kids but are currently standing by while new ways of delivery are being tested.
Student nutrition programs have shown to improve attendance, increase students’ participation in the classroom and in physical education programs, promote healthy eating habits, improve food-related skills and knowledge and improve students’ social skills
“It’s a need in community we are helping to solve,” said Schurman. “The kids are our future. We want to help them as much as we can. “
FirstOntario Credit Union has served members for 80 years throughout the Golden Horseshoe, Niagara Region and Southwestern regions of Ontario. To learn more, visit FirstOntario.com