Children & Youth Committee at Rotary Club of Guelph
Food4Kids in Guelph is a Rotary-inspired charity based on the belief that No Child In Our Community Should Go Hungry. 
In late 2017, Rotarians at our club became aware of a local problem that was not yet on our radar. The issue was that school children who live in severely food insecure families often struggle to get enough food on weekends, and arrive famished and unhappy at school on Monday. We learned that these children depend on getting something to eat at school, Monday to Friday, but that weekends (and school holidays) were a trial of endurance for some of them without adequate food at home. By "some children" we soon learned it was around 500 kids. In Guelph? Yes, in Guelph.
It's not that parents don't want to feed their children. It's that they can't because they are struggling to make ends meet.
We immediately began searching to find one or more local organizations addressing this issue for Guelph children in need, with the goal of getting Rotary behind them. Sadly, after three months of intense research, we learned that NO ONE in Guelph was addressing this weekend food shortage. 
"Someone" had to do "Something" about this issue, and that became us at Rotary.
Our Club quickly reached out to the other three Rotary Clubs in Guelph to let them know about this issue and we invited them to work with us in easing this problem. Each club instantly agreed and also provided volunteers to join an exploratory committee as well as "seed money" to establish a pilot program. (And all four Rotary Clubs in Guelph as well as the Rotaract Club have continued to work together on this, year after year!)
Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, the exploratory committee found a great model called Food4Kids that had started about 5 years earlier in Hamilton, Ontario and had quickly spread to other regions such as Halton, Niagara and Waterloo. Food4Kids Ontario was more than happy to guide us in establishing a chapter of Food4Kids in Guelph. It began with a local pilot program that was launched in the spring of 2018, followed by the continuation of the program year round starting September 2018.  By mid-2019, Food4Kids had become an independent registered charity loosely affiliated to the other Food4Kids agencies for sharing of best practices. 


Schools identify their students in need. Our largely volunteer-run charity provides these children with a nutritious weekend food bag to take home from school on Fridays. When schools are closed, we provide grocery gift cards to help their families buy food. Food4Kids Guelph therefore supports children year-round, and it costs around $1,000 per child per year. 

We receive no government support and have to raise funds through community donations, grants and sponsors. The 2023-2024 program budget for Food4Kids is just over $500,000 (yes, over half a million) and this is a tall order for small charity to raise! But somehow we are doing it, and making a real difference in children's lives.
Since COVID, even more needs have risen and it is now estimated that around 700 local children are in need of our food support. We are working to grow so that we can reduce our waiting lists. 
Program Growth
In March 2018, we began by supporting 43 kids at 3 schools.  By the end of our 5th full year of operation (June 2023) we were supporting 439 children at 30 out of Guelph's 39 elementary schools, helping 237 families. This involved packing and delivering almost 14,000 weekend food bags for kids during the school year 2022-2023.
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