Hunger in Moose Jaw, a community-based organization that supplies over 400 school lunches a week to underprivileged students in the city, in addition to a variety of other programs supporting Moose Jaw's children, is looking forward to their annual fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival on Saturday, Sep. 23.
Sharla Sept, executive director of Hunger in Moose Jaw, reported a solid summer of community collaborations and gardening. She said their school lunch numbers are already jumping as the school year gets under way.
"The summer went really well, we were able to work with the (City of Moose Jaw's free Playground Program) this summer, and deliver snacks to that program. We also supported children with the Moose Jaw Multicultural Council and some of the Y programs," Sept said.
"Our gardens went really well! All our plots were filled, and the harvest was really good, it's wrapping up early this year just because of the weather."
Hunger in Moose Jaw has partnered with the Yara Community Gardens since 2012. Community gardeners of all ages can rent from 140 garden plots in three different locations across the city to grow local, pesticide-free food.
The gardens provide food for the needy, and gardeners get the chance to participate in communal learning, enjoy meals and social opportunities together, go to farmer's markets, and attend the Pumpkin Harvest Festival.
This year's Pumpkin Harvest Festival is, as always, at the Yara Community Garden on the 900 block of Grey Ave, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"So, we are once again looking forward to our pumpkin festival," Sept said. "We're going to have a chili and hotdog lunch, that's by donation. And we'll have our pumpkin sale, as well as a farmer's market with face painting and games for the kids, and we'll also be having our annual baking silent auction which folks can enter."
Hunger in Moose Jaw is 'shouting out' all bakers/creative types to enter a baked good into the Pumpkin Harvest Festival silent auction. Submitted baked goods must include a full list of ingredients and be dropped off at the Hunger in Moose Jaw office at 269 Stadacona St. W on Sep. 22.
Frozen baked goods can be dropped off earlier, if needed. Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-highest bids received, as well as a prize for the most creative entry.
Questions about the Festival should be directed to Hunger in Moose Jaw at 306-692-1916.
All proceeds will go to support Hunger in Moose Jaw's school lunch program, without which many students would go hungry for at least one meal of the day. Other programs the organization provides include:
- Headstart Preschool
- Classes every weekday morning, 9 - 11:30 a.m. throughout the school year.
- 30 spaces available for 3- and 4-year-olds.
- Curriculum addresses the social, emotional, and physical needs of children in a safe, caring, and supportive environment. Focus on play, social interaction, literacy topped off with a healthy and fun snack.
- This program is free of charge. Applications are available at the Hunger in Moose Jaw office. Transportation is available and is assessed on the basis of need.
- Good Food Box
- Provides fresh fruit and vegetables at affordable prices, available to the general public.
- Large GFB ($25.00) – A family size box for 3 to 5 people.
- Small GFB ($20.00) – Medium sized box for 1-2 people.
- Fruit Bag ($15.00) – A small bag of 3-4 different types of fresh fruit.
- Volunteers pack the good food boxes. Delivery is available for site orders of 5 orders or more.
- Community Kitchens
- Offered in small groups to individuals who can benefit from learning how to prepare appetizing, economical and nutritious meals and snacks.
- At the end of each session, participants take prepared food home, as well as recipes and some non-perishable food items.
- Junior Chef
- Offered 5-6 times for a duration of 6 sessions between September and June, for children 9-12.
- Participants are taught to cook a main, side, and a dessert each time.
- Classes are limited to 5 participants.
- Registration for this program happens in the fall and fills up quickly.
Sept noted that more and more support is needed each year as families feel the painful economic pinch of the times.
"Our nutritious school lunch program numbers always rise a little bit each year, but last year's rise was to over 400, and we have never seen numbers like that before," she added. "We anticipate that that will still be the trend this year."
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