Food for Kids school nutrition program marks 30 years

Volunteer feeding students during school based nutrition program

Feb. 2, 2023

Food for Kids Peterborough and County, along with Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington (PVNC) Catholic District School Board and Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, celebrated 30 years of Student Nutrition Programs (SNP) in our community during a ceremony at St. John Catholic Elementary School in Peterborough on Feb. 2, 2023.

St. John CES continues to host a vibrant sit-down breakfast before the bell, feeding 290 students a day.

“The morning meal at our school is so much more than nourishing food. It’s a valuable part of school life,” St. John CES principal Jennifer Wright said.  “It’s a warm, inviting, social part of the school day, where positive relationships and a sense of belonging are nurtured.”

“For three decades, our amazing network has donated time, space, funding and equipment to feed hungry students,” says Stephanie Young, Chair of Food for Kids. “Thank-you to schools, their boards, students, volunteers, parents, educators, community members, businesses, organizations, faith groups and service clubs. Your decades long dedication has helped hundreds of thousands of students start the school day wellnourished and ready to learn.”

“Thirty years ago, a local service club approached two schools in downtown Peterborough with the idea of starting a breakfast club. Along with the support of district school boards Kawartha Pine Ridge and Peterborough Victoria Northumberland Clarington Catholic, the health unit came on board with nutrition and community development resources. “It was a pivotal moment for child nutrition in our community,” says Dr. Thomas Piggott, Medical Officer of Health with Peterborough Public Health. “These first partners knew that a nourishing morning meal made a difference to students’ learning and well-being.”

Today, 51 of the publicly funded local schools offer universal access to nourishing food. These programs, run by hundreds of volunteers and school staff, fed almost 19,000 students last year. Where programs exist, teachers report better behaviour, less missed school, and improved academic scores.

Director Joan Carragher speaking at podium

PVNC Catholic Director of Education Joan Carragher speaks at an event recognizing 30 years of the Food for Kids school nutrition program.

“The origins of this program are humble. But thanks to the early work of a handful of dedicated educators, passionate volunteers, and willing community partners, this nutrition program steadily grew,” PVNC Catholic Director of Education Joan Carragher said. “Today, three decades later,  it’s a partnership between school boards and public health that ensures our students start the day off with the fuel they need to learn, grow, and thrive. Today’s milestone is worth marking. This success story is worth celebrating. Thank you to all the people who make this program possible, for your dedication and commitment to the health and wellbeing of all students.”

Food for Kids thanked the many local organizations, sponsors and food suppliers who have supported local student nutrition programs along the way. Long-standing contributors include the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, United Way of Peterborough and Kawartha Food Share.

To volunteer with a program, contact your local school. Want to donate? Visit