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Grocery Foundation gives $300K to feed rural kids


The Grocery Foundation and the Ontario Association of Food Banks have together launched a program to make sure children in Ontario's small towns have enough to eat.

The Rural Kids Grant Program was set up this week and aims to help 82 rural food banks feed impoverished children in communities with populations of less than 50,000.

Some 14,000 children in small-town Ontario are considered chronically hungry, which is about 40 per cent of the total number of people served by rural food banks.

The Grocery Foundation, a non-profit organization led by the grocery industry that funds children's health and wellness programs, has committed $100,000 each year for the next three years to the Rural Kids program.

Andre Gagne, the Grocery Foundation's chair, said the organization normally does not give money to food banks because they also feed adults. But in this case, Ontario Food Banks developed a program specifically to help children.

Rural food banks do not get as much attention, and therefore donations, as urban food banks, Bill Laidlaw, the executive director of the Ontario Association of Food Banks, said. That's why this program is important, he added.

Laidlaw called the new program a pilot project that could be continued beyond the three-year mandate if it proves successful.

Each of the 82 rural food banks in Ontario has been asked to submit program ideas to feed hungry kids in their communities. Each food bank will be eligible to receive between $1,000 and $10,000 from the Rural Kids program.

"We'll be measuring the results from these programs," Laidlaw said.

The deadline for rural food banks to apply to the program is Oct. 19th. Ontario Food Banks said it expects to start distributing funds by the end of this month.

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