St. Catharines restaurant finds another way to help feed the community

January 19, 2016

Romby’s Tavern and Smokehouse fundraisers help to feed Niagara’s youth

by Melinda Cheevers Niagara This Week - St. Catharines


ST. CATHARINES — It can be hard to focus on anything, much less schoolwork, when you’re hungry.

That’s why breakfast is such an important part of the day for students across Niagara. Having a good meal, says Anne Kirkpatrick, program manager with Niagara Nutrition Partners, can make a world of difference in the life of a child.

“It’s the first meal… it helps to set the tone for the rest of the day,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important.”

Since 1998, Niagara Nutrition Partners, a region-wide initiative, has been providing coordinated nutrition programs in schools across the region – at both an elementary and secondary level. Kirkpatrick said there are 200 programs taking place in more than 120 schools across Niagara, offering up breakfast, lunch or snacks depending on the individual school’s need or capacity to host the program. To host the breakfast program, for example, a kitchen is needed.

“We feed 17,000 students every school day, five days a week,” she said.

The nutrition programs are free for the students, but there’s still a cost to the organization running the program. Kirkpatrick said some of the funding — 15 per cent — is administered through Community Care while the remainder comes from other grants, fundraisers like the annual Breakfast Gala held each May, and community partnerships. While grants can be helpful, they are also hard to rely on. While the organization may qualify for funding one year, there is never a guarantee. That’s why community partners are so important, said Kirkpatrick.

The organization was able to find a partner over the holiday season in Romby’s Tavern and Smokehouse.

“What they have done is so amazing,” said Kirkpatrick, adding she was taken aback by the support.

The Lake Street tavern hosts an annual Ladies Night each November. Now in its fifth year, Ladies Night is an evening of shopping, food and fun for women with proceeds going to a different community cause each year. The most recent event was held in support of Niagara Nutrition Partners.

Susie Turner, who organizes the event along with Amy Wilson, said she learned about the work of Niagara Nutrition Partners first hand from one of the initiative’s employees.