When COVID-19 forced schools to close in March, the OzHarvest FEAST team reimagined hands-on food, nutrition and sustainability education.
The FEAST program now educating more than 200 schools across Australia provides hands-on learning opportunities through distance learning.
While some schools transitioned to online learning smoothly the team determined that some of our FEAST schools required emergency food relief for families impacted by COVID-19. Allison Ferguson coordinated the distribution of OzHarvest Food Hampers in metro locations and food vouchers in regional areas.
FEAST FAMILY FOOD RELIEF IMPACT National stats to date (1/3/20 – 12/8/20)
- 32 low SES schools supported (4 National and 28 NSW)
- 747 families supported
- Provided 18 schools with 1,016 food vouchers. Each voucher supports a family of 4 for a week
- Provided 2 NSW schools with FEAST food vouchers to support the FEAST cooking program
- 2,718 hampers created by OzHarvest and delivered to FEAST schools
- 2 FEAST schools are now receiving long-term OzHarvest food relief support
Impact of this opportunity
Crossmaglen Public School Principal Renee Stokes-Marshall let us know the real impact of this opportunity; “The families were at first shocked and then overwhelmed with emotion – the tears flowed with each mum I spoke with. It truly shows the impact of the current circumstances.”
Families connect to the school community
The OzHarvest FEAST Family Food Relief Program provided an opportunity for families in need to feel connected to the school community. Nicole Mooney from Bankstown Public School stated, “the Food Hampers gave us a practical way to send the message: “Whilst we can’t see you every day, we are still here for you”. The families participating in the program benefited not only from the delicious ingredients and healthy recipes each fortnight, but also from maintaining a connection to our school as a safe and supportive space.”
Change the dynamic at home
Many teachers went above and beyond and personally delivered hampers to students’ homes. Margot Thomas, the Community Liaison Officer for McCallum Public School shared: “There were many families that benefited from the service; one case was a single father and his 2 children. The father is unable to work due to visa restrictions. It is coming up to the first anniversary of his wife’s death, it has been an incredibly difficult year for the family, and they are still struggling. They have been receiving OzHarvest Food Hampers and it has been really rewarding to be able to assist the family, they are always so thankful.”
Behavioural change through evaluation
Many families commented on how healthy and fresh the food was and what a good idea the recipes and worksheets were. Our post survey data found 56% of survey respondents used the recipe cards to make meals. Many parents let us know how much they enjoyed cooking the food with their children. Teachers like Kara Osborne, Special Education teacher at Cardiff High School sent us photos of the students preparing meals and shared with us how proud she was of her students preparing food at home and cooking using the FEAST recipes.
The success of the OzHarvest FEAST Family Food Relief Program comes from having a leader that allows for creative ideas to come forward during a time of crisis, a workplace that jumps to support a community in need and a school community that goes above and beyond to support children to thrive in the classroom and at life!