A kitchen that usually feeds hungry high school students will soon be providing 1,000 meals per day to help feed the wider community.
Saskatoon Public Schools is providing the commercial kitchen, food labs, and cafeteria at Mount Royal Collegiate, along with $20,000 in funding, to support the work being done by the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC). Beginning Thursday, division staff working from the kitchens at Mount Royal will prepare 1,000 supper meals to be distributed by STC.
The school division is one member of a coalition of Indigenous, community and business partners who are supporting the STC's efforts to ensure the community has access to food and other necessities.
"Over the past few days we have been working with the Saskatoon Tribal Council to help meet the nutritional needs in our communities," said superintendent of education Brent Hills. "When STC realized the increasing needs in the community they asked us for in-kind support, which we were happy to provide through use of our facilities and staff.
"Saskatoon Public Schools is very proud to help our community in this time of need. We truly feel we are better together."
Tribal Chief Mark Arcand said tribal council launched the initiative by preparing lunches and suppers at the White Buffalo Youth Lodge for delivery to about 300 people. A survey last week identified 435 households who needed meals and the STC now expects to serve 1,500 lunches and suppers each weekday.
"The city of Saskatoon has so many passionate people that want to make a difference in people's lives," Arcand said, adding that the delivery of hot meals means people can stay at home and stay safe.
The goal is to operate the program until at least the end of June. at an estimated cost of $12,000 to $15,000 per week. Arcand said monetary and in-kind donations have created a "mass inventory of food services."
A total of 30 staff members drawn from schools throughout the division will help prepare and package meals. One 10-member team will work each day to ensure physical distancing is maintained. Staff will be provided with gloves and masks. Supplies will be delivered to Mount Royal by the Saskatoon Co-op and STC will co-ordinate meal delivery to the recipients.
"We appreciate the leadership and commitment of our staff members in this effort and the support of CUPE Local 8443 and the Saskatoon Community Educators Association in the reassignment of staff to meet the greater needs of our community," Hills said.