Winnipeg Free Press
April 2, 2020
Article by: Doug Speirs
“The school’s food bank program wouldn’t exist without the vital support of the Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation.”
The Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation provides funding and resources to students in a number of communities in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Entering into these communities, we saw that there were students that had the perpetual challenge of not having enough food to support their physical and cognitive well-being. A major consequence of this is the inability to focus and perform at school, deepening the challenges of these disadvantaged individuals.
In response, the Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation developed a series of programs to support these students and help them reach their full potential:
The program is a success – Students in the program achieved measurable increases in their academic performance and physical well-being. The students are grateful for the support, and we are pleased to be able to make an impactful contribution to the lives of these individuals.
In early 2018, the Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation pledged $10 million dollars to three underprivileged high schools located in Winnipeg. St. John’s High School, one of the schools to receive the grant, has students who live in a largely single-parent household community where the median income is $40,000. A major issue for students in this community is access to a sustainable and healthy food program.
This year, with the help of the Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation, St. John’s High School unveiled its brand new Tiger Cafe, an affordable lunch and breakfast program for students. Tiger Cafe offers a communal environment where students can enjoy delicious meals prepared by the school’s new cafeteria. From pancakes and eggs to lemon chicken and lasagna, these meals are prepared in a transformed cafeteria with state-of-the-art cooking and kitchen appliances.
The new affordable lunch program offers students free breakfast and $2.50 lunches – every day of the week for the entire school year. Meals are prepared fresh and emphasize the nutritional needs a busy high school student deserves. The program is a success drawing excited reviews from students who now look forward to eating their school breakfast and lunch with their peers.
The principal of St John’s, Doug Taylor, says the positive effect of the Tiger Cafe is “a game-changer… [The lunch program] is making a difference. Students are staying here, students are eating.”
The program which is estimated to cost $400,000 a year is fully covered by the grant received from the Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation.
The Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation strongly believes that no individual should be disadvantaged as a result of their cultural background. In communities where we have identified this systemic disadvantage, we have provided the funding and resources needed to do our part in helping these individuals.
To begin this program, we identified schools in Winnipeg with particularly high populations of cultural diversity and poverty. For example, St. John’s High School demographics are 55% Indigenous, 30% Filipino and a high percentage of immigrants. We found that these populations, in particular, are on social assistance and struggle to pay rent, utilities, and clothing. Many live in small houses and share rooms and resources.
The program offered in this school and several others in Winnipeg provide funding and resources to students that will help them both when they are in high school, and in their post-secondary education. We award students for academic performance with bursaries ranging from $150-$300 and recognition in a ceremony with their peers. Students are given bursaries only if their parents are present, demonstrating a family commitment to the students and their education.
The Foundation also provides several scholarships to students looking to attend college or university. Each year, 10 students a year are given a $7,500 scholarship to a 4-year university program. We also provide scholarships for up to 40 students to attend community college and graduate with a trade or business administration degree.
Empowering our youth – especially those that suffer from disadvantages as a result of their cultural background – is a keystone of The Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation, and we are proud of the positive change we can make in these communities.