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Manitoba Government Press Release–The Manitoba government has partnered with community-based organizations to deliver nutritious food and family-friendly recipes to about 6,000 children in pilot sites across the province, supported by new online resources to help all Manitoba families learn more about nutrition and meal preparation together, Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.

“Our government believes that nutritious food and meal preparation can bring families closer together, and this investment will provide that opportunity to thousands of children and families experiencing food disruption because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stefanson. “Through the Home Nutrition and Learning Pilot Program, we will connect thousands of children and their families with nutritious food, family-focused recipes and learning activities over the coming months.”

In keeping with the Manitoba government’s commitment to working with community-based organizations, the $2.5-million pilot program will be delivered by:
• Andrews Street Family Centre Inc. in Winnipeg;
• Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Inc. in Winnipeg;
• Samaritan House in Brandon;
• Food Matters Manitoba in the community of Cross Lake; and
• Bayline Regional Round Table in Thicket Portage, Pikwitonei, Ilford/War Lake and Wabowden.

The minister noted these organizations will build on their existing relationships with families and community networks to deliver a successful pilot program. In many cases, they have been providing emergency food items as part of the community response to COVID-19, but the pilot program will allow them to provide additional nutritious foods to families built around menus, recipes and educational activities.

“Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre provides basic emergency food kits to hundreds of low-income families every week, and this investment will help us provide more nutritious foods to children and families in need,” said Diane Redsky, executive director, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre. “We are very grateful for the province’s substantial investment, and we look forward to the direct and meaningful impacts this investment will have in the lives of our children and families.”

“Andrews Street Family Centre has been providing 120 to 150 hot lunches to our community since COVID-19 began, and this pilot program will allow the centre to support another 50 to 60 families with nutritious food, learning material and menus,” said Dilly Knol, executive director, Andrews Street Family Centre. “Learning to cook together as a family through this pilot program may introduce different foods that families might not have purchased in the past. We hope this will lead to families buying and preparing more nutritious food together.”

Participating families will receive packages of healthy foods along with recipes and learning activities that have been developed by the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba. These educational resources will also be available online at a new website for all Manitobans, to support families as they spend time together learning about food, nutrition and meal preparation.

“Learning to cook at home is an invaluable life skill,” said Stefanson. “Reading a recipe, measuring ingredients and making food together at home encourages literacy, numeracy and many other skills. We hope the Home Nutrition and Learning Pilot Program will provide parents with additional opportunities to connect with their children in a fun, shared activity.”

The pilot program will launch in Winnipeg this week and in other communities in early July, running until the end of September in all locations. The community partners will use their connections with families who have school-aged children and are experiencing food disruption to invite them to participate in the pilot program. Community partners will also let families know how their packages will be provided, as this will vary by pilot site.

The minister noted this pilot program is part of the Manitoba Protection Plan, a government-wide initiative to support Manitobans affected by COVID-19.

Manitobans are encouraged to visit www.manitoba.ca/nutritionlearningprogram to learn more about the pilot program and to explore the available resources and learning activities.

A comprehensive list of Manitoba government COVID-19 measures can be found at:
https://manitoba.ca/bg/2020/04/covid19.html.