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Manitoba Government Press Release–The Manitoba government will invest more than $1.4 million to extend the Home Nutrition and Learning Program until the end of the year, ensuring that participating children will continue to have access to nutritious breakfast packages, Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.

“We are continuing to work with our partners across the province to deliver breakfast packages to thousands of children who might otherwise experience food disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stefanson. “An extended pilot project will also provide us with more information for an evaluation to help us determine next steps. The online resources developed for the Home Nutrition and Learning Program continue to be available to all families, filled with child-friendly recipes and fun, educational activities.”

The extended pilot project builds on the government’s $2.5-million program that was announced in June. It is being delivered by Andrews Street Family Centre Inc. and Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Inc. in Winnipeg, Samaritan House in Brandon, Cross Lake Community Council in partnership with Food Matters Manitoba in the community of Cross Lake, and Bayline Regional Round Table in Thicket Portage, Pikwitonei, Ilford/War Lake and Wabowden.

“I am very pleased to have the Home Nutrition and Learning Program extended until the end of December, and I know families will be happy with the news as well,” said Dilly Knol, executive director, Andrews Street Family Centre. “Many of our families have felt very fortunate to receive this nutritious food and the fun activity booklets. Some told us that the breakfast box gave their children the chance to try new fruits and vegetables, which they have enjoyed so much that they are now part of the family’s own grocery purchases. Another parent told us that the ideas and recipes have made her more confident, so she is cooking more and the entire family is enjoying that together.”

The number of children served by the pilot project has grown over the past several months as it launched across the province. By the end of August, more than 2,100 children were receiving a breakfast box and in total more than 6,700 boxes have been distributed, based on information reported to the province. Partners will continue to work with families in their community to build relationships and expand the program to those who need it. An evaluation led by the province’s Social Innovation Office will identify areas for improvement and provide recommendations regarding the pilot program to the minister.

Participating families will continue to receive packages of healthy foods, along with recipes and learning activities developed by the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba.

“The response from families receiving breakfast boxes through the Home Nutrition and Learning Program has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Diane Redsky, executive director, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre. “Families impacted by the disruption of school-based breakfast programs have expressed relief and gratitude at being able to access proper child nutrition at a time when access is limited. Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre’s focus has always been to support children and families, and we are happy to continue to administer the Home Nutrition and Learning Program in partnership with the Province of Manitoba.”

Manitobans are encouraged to visit https://mbnutritionlearning.ca/ to learn more about the pilot program and to explore the available resources and learning activities.