Since the early 1990s, the kitchen servicing the breakfast/lunch program at West Bench Elementary School has looked much the same.
Now, thanks to funding from the School Community Connections program it will undergo a renovation that will include adding an industrial dishwasher.
“We are absolutely excited about this," said West Bench Principal Allen Beckingham. “It is volunteers who work in the program, so they will appreciate a more updated facility to work in.”
The school is one of several in School District 67-Okanagan Skaha that will get kitchen facelifts, since the district met with success in its bid for a total of $17,500 in funding from the final allotment of money available through the program.
Community Connections, launched in 2005, encourages greater community use of school facilities and supports co-location of services. It is no longer accepting applications.
At West Bench, $5,000 is slated for the sanitizing dishwasher for the meals program . Naramata Elementary will get $1,500 to replace and upgrade the locking and security systems, so the community can access the kitchen, gym and parks and recreation storage area locker outside of school hours. Some funding will be for shelving that will complete the kitchen renovation.
Giant’s Head Elementary will get $8,000 to support a renovation including a sanitizing dishwasher for its breakfast program.
Other district schools will receive $3,000 to purchase fridges for the meal programs
Superintendent Wendy Hyer said the district always appreciate any money that comes in to support schools. And it is important that funding goes to the breakfast/lunch programs.
“You have a number of kids who live in poverty, so it’s good they can start the day with breakfast and then have a good lunch,” she said.
At West Bench, the breakfast program is offered from 8 to 9 a.m., with senior volunteers on hand to assist. Everything from eggs to waffles and cereal, juice and toast is served.
At lunch, parent volunteers staff the kitchen providing students with food ranging from bagels to soup and crackers and cheese.
Beckingham calls the programs key pieces to the school climate.
“Based on educational research, it’s proven that students who are hungry are going to have a difficult time learning,” he said. “The kitchen is a key part of that, and grants like this make that possible."