School gets District of Houston grant for food programs

Silverthorne feeds between 80 and 100 students a day

Silverthorne Elementary School. (Houston Today file photo)

Silverthorne Elementary School. (Houston Today file photo)

Silverthorne Elementary School is receiving a $5,000 grant from the District of Houston to kickstart its breakfast and lunch programs this fall.

The money comes from a $100,000 fund set aside by the District last year in support of local groups and organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

And the $100,000 came from a larger COVID-19 relief grant of $1.066 million provided to the District by the provincial government last fall.

Silverthorne had asked for $5,000 to cover an anticipated deficit of $3,000 by the end of this school year and $2,000 to finance the start of its breakfast and lunch programs when school resumes in September.

In a letter to the District of Houston council, Silverthorne said the two meal programs have grown from what was toast in the morning to a program now feeding between 80 and 100 students each day.

“Meals are offered to any child that wants to partake at no cost so no child goes hungry regardless of socioeconomic background. We do ask parents to donate if they are able or help with fundraising activities to support the cost of running this program,” indicated the letter.

But last March, when the pandemic was declared, things changed.

“Parents aren’t able to come into the school to help with fundraising and don’t feel comfortable coming into the school to do transactions with the pandemic. Some families have had their employment affected by the pandemic so their reliance on the program we offer has increased,” the letter continued.

While income dropped, expenses rose by using disposable dishes to deliver meals to classrooms. The school then purchased covered melamine dishes at a cost of just over $3,300 to cut down on waste.

With overall expenses this school year to be an estimated $34,000 and revenue of just under $31,000, “we are forecasting a deficit of approximately $3,000 for the end of June which would make the start up of our program in September almost impossible,” the letter emphasized.

With this $5,000 grant to Silverthorne, the District has $79,600 remaining.

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 249 was the first community organization to receive a COVID-19 relief grant when $5,400 was approved to help offset costs of the Legion’s shuttle service that have increased with more seniors and others using the service stemming from the pandemic.

And Houston Link to Learning received $10,000 for its 2021 community garden program which combines food security with teaching literacy and numeracy skills.

There are no set criteria for the District’s grant program but groups and organizations do have to serve a vulnerable population and their efforts must have a significant community impact.