Every idea and every story has a beginning. The Community Lunch Box Program began in 2004 when Tara Baker met a boy who didn’t have a lunch. From there, she and a small group of volunteers began to help out at schools in order to ensure that no student learned on an empty stomach. The idea caught on like wildfire and eventually encompassed six schools and two school divisions. The program now helps out at Storefront School, Little Big Fort, Boys & Girls Club and the Whitecourt District Playschool with over 130 volunteers.
Tara says she hopes that the smashing success of the Lunch Box Program will continue to help students learn on a full stomach, create more part time jobs within the program and encourage other communities to follow in its trailblazing footsteps.
Her nickname is “Boss” and her favourite volunteering activity is spending afternoons sorting bottles at the garage.
She believes the interest in the Lunch Box program is growing because “We focus on the positive,” she says. Everyone is trying their best to collect bottles to buy food. Within five years she believes the Lunch Box Program will grow stronger and more accessible to people in the Whitecourt community.
“It takes a community to raise a child and we are supposed to help kids before they have to ask,” said Baker. “The Lunch Box is an inclusive program that anyone can be involved in. Everyone is welcome. We depend on the kindness of community and we shine because of it.”
For those that are interested in taking an active role or even just learning more about the Lunch Box Program, Tara encourages people to visit the website at www.communitylunchbox.ca or call 780- 778-8252.
Passionate and dedicated to the program, Tara told me that one challenge she faces is separating her private life from CLB life. She values the moments she spends at home with family and said she surrounds herself with good people. She enjoys watching the TV talk show Ellen and the comedy sitcom The Goldbergs. She loves her dog Ruby and brings her along for truck rides in the CLB truck.
Tara Baker is an inspiration to us all and her resilience and dedication to serving others and those in need will continue to impact our wonderful and diverse community in positive ways for years to come.
Community Lunch Box program coordinator Tara Baker with Quinn Fisher, the author.