The Friendly News: This lunch program ensures no students go hungry

Dec 10 2020, 9:21 pm

The Friendly News is a collaboration between TELUS and Daily Hive. Together, we’re creating a space for important, feel-good community stories to be told, where Canadians can immerse themselves in uplifting news and articles featuring community leaders giving back during a time when we all need it most.

Written for Daily Hive by Sandra Thomas

When the coronavirus forced schools across New Brunswick to close earlier this year, Cassandra Blackmore and the dedicated staff and volunteers at the Fredericton Community Kitchens knew what they had to do to make sure their neighbours didn’t go hungry. Blackmore and her team quickly came up with The Pantry Delivery Program to bring nutritious meals to deserving kids and families. 

“We immediately got to work coming up with a new program to help the hundreds of kids and families that regularly depend on our Student Hunger Lunch and Backpack programs,” says Blackmore, the non-profit organization’s executive director. 

Schools closed on a Monday. By Friday, the team had put together its first Pantry Delivery Program pick-up day. The Pantry Delivery Program works in partnership with 16 local schools and ensures that children are still able to get the nutritious meals they need to grow and thrive. 

Volunteer picking up food for Fredericton Community Kitchens / Supplied

Volunteer picking up food for Fredericton Community Kitchens / Supplied

“We never wavered in our mission to continue to help feed Fredericton’s hungry, no matter the circumstances,” says Blackmore. 

Partners such as the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation have stepped in to provide a vital lifeline in a time of greater need.

It was with a grant from the Foundation that the Fredericton Community Kitchens was able to continue its vital community outreach work during the pandemic. Along with funding the Pantry Delivery Program, the organization was also able to deliver more than 20,000 boxed meals every month to families throughout the community, all the while adhering to public health guidelines around social distancing. 

Volunteer picking up food for Fredericton Community Kitchens / Supplied

Cassandra with potato donation / Supplied

TELUS launched the Friendly Future Foundation in 2018 with a $120 million endowment  — the largest donation by a publicly traded Canadian company and one of the largest in North America. Through its support of local grassroots initiatives delivered through charities across Canada like the Fredericton Community Kitchens, the Foundation serves a mission to give vulnerable youth a friendlier future by empowering them enhanced access to technology, health and educational programs. 

That help has never been needed more. An August 2020 study by the New Brunswick Health Council estimates one in five children in that province lives in poverty, which can have serious impacts on their health and wellbeing. According to the study, more than half of children living in poverty report mental health symptoms, 75 per cent don’t get enough sleep, and only 25 per cent eat breakfast every day — almost 50 per cent fewer than peers from wealthier families. 

Fredericton Community Kitchens

Gisele, volunteer driver for Fredericton Community Kitchens / Supplied

Gisele Belyea, a volunteer driver for the Pantry Delivery Program, says she’s proud to be part of such a caring community. 

“The Fredericton Community Kitchens’ programs make such a difference for so many families,” she says. “Through the support of organizations like the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation and our community volunteering, it hasn’t just been about caring for students and their families. It’s been about coming together during a time when we really need to help each other.” 

Pantry Delivery Program brown bags

Pantry Delivery Program brown bags

In addition to the Friendly Future Foundation supporting grassroot initiatives and charities across Canada, TELUS is also dedicated to building stronger, healthier communities, and helping those who need support the most. The TELUS team has generously contributed $1.3 billion in value, time, and financial support to Canadian charities and grassroots organizations since 2000 including $736 million and 1.4 million days of volunteerism, making TELUS one of the most giving companies in the world.

To learn more about TELUS Friendly Future Foundation, eligibility criteria and how to apply for funding, please visit


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