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Hungry kids get fed
Nakasuk School starts Saa (Table) program

Kassina Ryder
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, March 30, 2010

IQALUIT - Kids at Nakasuk School don't have to worry about going hungry thanks to a special program introduced this year.

NNSL photo/graphic

School Community Counsellor Christa Kunuk in her office at Nakasuk School in Iqaluit. Kunuk started a school initiative that allows hungry children to get food at school. - photo courtesy of Brian Manning

School community counsellor Christa Kunuk began the Saa program, or Table program in English, this school year after noticing some kids not getting enough to eat throughout the school day.

"Some kids would come to me and say 'I'm hungry, there's no food at home'," she said. "We do have some children who, from time to time, go through that."

Kunuk said the program is simple. The school's pantry contains food donations from parents and other community members. Much of the food gets donated during the Christmas season, especially during the annual Christmas concert, but it is also donated throughout the school year.

Children can then go to Kunuk and simply ask for food if they are hungry.

"It's been really great," she said. "Kids will come in and ask."

Kunuk said while ensuring kids have enough to eat is important, it is just as vital to make sure the kids aren't ashamed to ask.

"I don't know the circumstances," she said. "I want them to be happy, healthy children so I don't judge if they're hungry. I see that as 'let's just feed them.'"

"I felt like kids, when they come to school, they shouldn't feel embarrassed or worried about not eating."

Some children were not comfortable asking for food in the beginning, Kunuk said. But over time the idea has become commonplace.

"They're very comfortable now," she said.

Kunuk said no one can live up to their own potential if they're hungry and this is one of the main messages she wants the kids to understand.

"If they want to succeed, there is no shame in it. We're all there to help one another," she said.

She also said taking control of the situation can help students realize they have decision-making power in their own lives.

"'I'm hungry and I need to fix this,' it just sort of empowers them," she said.

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