NANAIMO -- The Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation has launched a hamper delivery program called ‘Food4Schools’ to help feed children in the region amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food4Schools is helping provide meals for more than 650 students throughout the district who are typically enrolled in a meal program during the school year.

Since school closures were extended in B.C. several weeks ago due to the pandemic, students have not been able to access normal meal programs.

Now, Food4Schools hampers will provide each student and family with a week’s worth of breakfasts, lunches and extra snacks.

Nanaimo food hampers

The foundation is expecting more students will need assistance as the pandemic continues.

“We’ve got a lot of families that are now finding themselves out of work,” said Crystal Dennison, executive director of Nanaimo-Ladysmith School Foundations.

“We are anticipating an increased need above and beyond the 650 [students] that we were serving before.”

The Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district has provided the space and staff to help with the program. John Barsby Secondary’s multi-purpose room is being used to put the hampers together and several School District 68 staff are helping build and deliver them.

The school district made sure that safety and social distancing protocols were put in place before the program launched. Staff are also going in after every day of hamper-building to thoroughly clean the site.

“Families in Nanaimo are struggling through this pandemic all across the district,” said Dale Burgos, executive director of communications for SD68.

“The district and foundation are helping to get through these difficult times.”

300 hampers have already been delivered and 100 more are expected to go out this week.

Cash donations to help the foundation feed students in the region can be made online here