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Sundre Nutrition for Learning seeks to fill vacancies

After 20 years, society potentially at risk of folding
MVT Nutrition for Learning file photo
The Sundre Nutrition for Learning Society, whose volunteers like Mary Fyten, pictured serving Jaydon Braybrook breakfast at Sundre High School in this 2019 file photo, is in peril of folding after 20 years of service to the community if the non-profit is unable to secure enough volunteer board members. File photo/MVP Staff

SUNDRE — After 20 years of providing students with fuel for school, a local organization is potentially at risk of folding if board vacancies remain unfilled.

“We are needing two board member positions as well as the members-at-large,” said Angela Sandberg, Sundre Nutrition for Learning Society president.

“If we aren’t able to fill board positions, that doesn’t leave us in a very good spot,” Sandberg said last week, adding the program could be at risk if a full board cannot be secured.  

Above and beyond the director-at-large positions, the board also needs to find volunteers willing to serve the executive as vice-president and secretary, she said.

Originally forming as a society in 2001, the registered non-profit observed its 20th anniversary amid the ongoing pandemic.

While Sandberg had prior to the health crisis served as a volunteer for a number of years, she only just stepped up as president right before COVID-19 hit.

“We used to have a muffin day (at River Valley School) where there would be at least four extra volunteers in to help bake muffins. The whole school would just smell of these muffins baking,” she said longingly, adding that program has since been put on hold.  

“I really miss not being able to be at the school and see all the kids.”

However, public health measures that have thrown no shortage of proverbial wrenches into many organizations’ gears, were not enough to completely prevent the society from continuing the important work of providing students with snacks.

“Of course (the program) has looked different as volunteers haven’t been able to come into the schools,” she said.

Whereas multiple volunteers used to work together to prepare and deliver snacks and meals at the schools, coordinator Ann-Marie Fuchko has taken on the task of looking after both River Valley School as well as Sundre High School, said Sandberg.

“She has been doing snacks three days a week at River Valley School and then breakfast five days a week at the high school,” said Sandberg.

“Before, we had volunteers coming into the school to help prepare snacks,” she said.

These days, the society has shifted toward pre-prepared, grab-and-go style snacks. So, instead of for example, chopping up large block of cheese and fruit like apples into sealable baggies, the society has been using pre-packaged, individually wrapped single servings with a focus on items that are easier to distribute with less preparation work involved, she said. 

At the high school, simple breakfasts are still served.

“They do have the cereals and yogurts and fruit and milk every day that’s offered to the high school students,” she said, adding there are occasionally other menus that include bagels, toast or breakfast burritos.   

The program has benefited students in a variety of ways, with teachers reporting many positive changes over the years since first launching in 2001. Examples include increased time on learning tasks in the classroom, fewer behavioural disruptions, a happier and less stressed environment, higher levels of student achievement, more energy in students, as well as an increase in healthy attitudes among staff and students, she said.

“By having students fill up on nutritious breakfasts and snacks, they are being supported in their physical health, which is directly related to the quality of engagement they have when at school, which of course supports their mental health as well.”

But to ensure the society’s sustainability, the board vacancies must be filled out at the upcoming annual general meeting.  

“If we do not get a full board, our program will be in jeopardy of closing as we will not be eligible for many grants,” she said.

The annual general meeting is set for Wednesday, Dec. 8 at the Sundre Municipal Library starting at 7 p.m.

Anyone who is interested in getting involved with the society as a volunteer, a board member, offering a donation, or even simply learning more about the organization, can call Sandberg at 403-638-7981.  

Additionally, longtime executive director Carla Valentine plans to eventually step down, and anyone interested in filling that paid position is encouraged to keep an eye out for the job posting.

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel is the editor of the Sundre Round Up and a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.
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