Education

Schroeder Foundation Expands Food Bank Program to Dufferin School

“It sends an important message – ‘we care about you and really want you here’.”

The Schroeder Foundation, a Canadian charity active in Winnipeg’s core, is providing free lunches for students at Dufferin School in an effort to address food insecurity in the city’s Centennial neighbourhood.

The program is the first step in an expansion of the Foundation’s Food Bank program currently running at St. John’s High School, which provides free and subsidized breakfast and lunch for students, as well as meal kits and outreach workers for families. In this first iteration, the Dufferin program will provide 150 free lunches to students.

“Our efforts at St. John’s are having significant, tangible results when it comes to student attendance and retention. As a former student of Dufferin School, this new extension of our food program is close to my heart,” said Walter Schroeder, Head and Founder of the Schroeder Foundation. “St. John’s is the prototype. We are now looking at taking that model and applying it to other schools where students might experience food insecurity. Supporting Dufferin School allows us to reach students earlier in their academic careers with that nutritional support.”

Thus far at Dufferin School, the Foundation has provided funding for infrastructure (refrigerators, food prep supplies, etc.) as well as budgets for payroll and groceries. There is potential for expansion of this program, based on evolving student needs.

“We are grateful to be working with The Schroeder Foundation to support our students and set them up for success,” said Dufferin School Principal Garth McAlpine. “When the students are provided with a free healthy lunch it helps us send an important message – ‘we care about you and really want you here’. It has the potential to impact student attendance and remove a stress factor from their day.”

The groceries for both the St. John’s and Dufferin food programs are purchased through the Winnipeg-owned Downtown Family Foods.

The son of German immigrants, philanthropist Walter Schroeder grew up in Winnipeg’s Centennial neighbourhood and attended Dufferin School.

“I was a student at Dufferin School, and had to spend an additional month in Grade 1 to improve my English – I almost failed Grade 1,” said Schroeder. “Although I was born in Winnipeg, my large extended family spoke only German, so my English was deficient. We always had food, but my wife (who grew up with a similar background) struggled in her early years to get enough to eat. We have a keen knowledge of food insecurity. It is a pleasure to add a food program to the school that launched my career and contributed to my success in business.”

Schroeder went on to found the Dominion Bond Rating Service, then sold the company in 2014 to focus on philanthropy with his wife Maria. He resides in Toronto while supporting many Winnipeg endeavors that remove barriers to education and empower youth to reach their education goals.

The Schroeder Foundation is committed to improving health services for Canadians, fostering the arts, removing barriers to education and enhancing post-secondary opportunities for vulnerable youth. In Winnipeg, the Foundation funds numerous initiatives – a contribution of over $3 million per year. This includes the provision of free and subsidized student breakfasts and lunches at St. John’s High School, meal kits for student families, and five outreach workers to help families remove barriers to education. The Foundation provides 80+ full post-secondary scholarships to the University of Manitoba, Red River College and the University of Winnipeg, as well as full-ride post-secondary scholarships to Vancouver Film School given annually to students from the Sisler High School CREATE program. In 2000, the Foundation provided cutting-edge animation and design equipment to students of the CREATE program so they could continue their education during the pandemic. The Foundation also stepped up in 2021 to cover a Winnipeg School Division budget cut to the milk subsidy program – a contribution of just over $210,000 annually.

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