Jane Vander Velden
March 22, 2017
Meet Jane: Jane is a teacher and volunteer coordinator with the Children’s Foundation Food & Friends Student Nutrition Program at Centre Peel Public School.
Jane was the driving force behind the development and growth of this school’s morning meal program. She started the program 10 years ago, seeing a real need at the school. “The children were coming to school hungry and just were not able to learn properly.”
She tells the story of one family that was experiencing hard times and the children were coming to school hungry; there was no question that this family needed a little more. Jane saw the need and made sure the children got enough food to get them through the day, often feeding them lunch and snacks.
It was realities like this that drove Jane to start a morning meal program at the school. Since then, with the support of Food & Friends, Jane has been providing breakfast to students two days a week. It did not take long for other teachers to notice the benefits and Jane knew she had to find a way to feed each student every day of the week.
In the beginning Jane had a huge undertaking in front of her and took on all of the necessary tasks: she shopped early Monday mornings from a 24-hour grocery store, prepared the food, delivered it to classrooms, and cleaned up afterwards. Today, Jane can be truly proud of how the program has developed. With a great system in place and the Ontario Student Nutrition Services food delivery program, morning meals are now offered daily, effectively and efficiently by teacher facilitators.
The program is not without its challenges: there is little money and fundraising is difficult. Many families are from Mennonite communities and work long hours on family farms. Jane said her reward is giving every child the ability to learn: the smiles on their faces make all the difference.
Jane’s experience volunteering with the Children’s Foundation Food & Friends Program has given her the reward of knowing what she is providing proper nutrition so every student has the opportunity to learn and grow.
Jane is retiring at the end of this year and will be leaving her post as the program coordinator for the Centre Peel morning meal program. She has left a great legacy and we thank Jane for the huge difference she has made in the lives of local children.
Best of luck in your next phase of life, Jane, thank you for all the great work you have done and the difference you’ve made!