Supports students with food and other essentials
M’CHIGEENG—Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) has launched a Living Well Locker, a safe space where students can visit when in need of food, toiletries, supplies or other essentials.
“I’ve noticed a need at the school the last couple of years and this past spring I started to think of a way we could address it as a school,” shared MSS Family Studies Teacher Dawn Noble McCann. “A colleague of mine went to a poverty conference and upon their return we really got the ball rolling.”
Ms. Noble McCann reached out to Manitoulin Transport who donated towards the project and the MSS staff quickly took to the idea as well, bringing in donations.
“We had community members who heard about the project, such as Samantha Ramage of Little Current, who reached out to friends for donations and purchased feminine hygiene products,” said Ms. Noble McCann. “We stocked the items in the old student council room at the school and have made it available to students. There is a sink and I set up a toaster and a coffee maker.”
The room is attached to Ms. Noble McCann’s family studies classroom, and leftovers from cooking classes are stocked in the freezer and made available to students.
Students are welcome to heat up leftovers or cook the soup or make lunch with the other food items provided. MSS has students that live independently or whose families are struggling to purchase groceries so Ms. Noble McCann and her team made up grocery bags of food for them to take home to help them get through the holidays. Since the Living Well Locker opened in late December, 11 bags of food have been sent home with students.
“As the fall turns to winter, it is expected that we as staff members will see an increase level of need among our students,” continued Ms. Noble McCann. “With the Christmas season and added expenses, this often creates hardship amongst our Island families and we see that more evidently in our students. It goes without noticing that this affects many students as it is seen through behaviour, a rise in mental health issues, observations of need and flat out requests for food. With this in mind, opening up a food bank, pantry or some type of reliable place has been easily justified. The Living Well Locker is a safe place in which students can visit when in need of food, toiletries, socks, clothing, school supplies and feminine hygiene products. This need seems to be on the rise within secondary schools all over Ontario and the need for this on Manitoulin Island is no different.”
The Living Well Locker staff team is looking for more donations to replenish the shelves since the end of the Christmas break.
They are looking for: local food such as apples, fish, venison, etc.; fresh food, with leftovers used by the food and nutrition classes to make freezable meals for the program; canned chicken, tuna, ham or salmon; ready-to-go meals like beef stew and chili with meat; canned vegetables; canned fruit; shelf stable milk; low-sugar cereal; peanut or nut butter; quick oats; whole grain pasta, brown rice and quinoa; sliced bread; toiletries such as toothbrushes, soap, toothpaste, lotion, shampoo and conditioner; feminine hygiene products; socks, mitts and hats; school supplies and backpacks; plastic/glass containers (Tupperware or margarine dishes); containers, jars, freezer, zip lock bags; refrigerator; stand up freezer; shelving; and recyclable bags. Donations can be dropped off at MSS.