Lending a helping hand
By Alyssa Newman
Sir Winston Churchill once said, "There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies. Healthy citizens are the greatest assets any country can have."
For the past few years, Health Canada, Middlesex-London Public Health Unit, St. Joseph's Health Centre and others have sponsored a community program called Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies.
Western students have volunteered both their time and food items to the service.
The program offers prenatal nutrition and support to pregnant women and their babies, usually catering to lower socio-economic residents. Their goal is to provide food, develop life skills in the community and improve health care in London's east end.
Originally Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies was provided with funds for the residents in the east end, but Angela Pope, the program assistant, said "no one is turned away, since they are the only free assistance program in the city." Currently 60 per cent of the mothers who attend the program are from outside this area, Pope added.
Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies offers many services to pregnant teens and other women who need prenatal and postnatal support and information. Pope added about 10 women attend a weekly session. Some services include: healthy snacks and meals; food gift certificates and supplements; transportation if needed; as well as babysitting programs.
Since September 1995, 112 women have attended the program at least once. Volunteers are always welcome to help the program.
Sarah Ross and Jaime Cooke, two Brescia College nutrition students, have been helping the program throughout the year and they are holding a food drive this month to support the service. Jaime Cooke said this experience is invaluable for her since she wishes to pursue a career in the field of dietetics. She added it is important for everyone to help out those less fortunate in any way they can.
Students can drop off a spare can of fruit or vegetables, peanut butter, rice or pasta this month on their way to class. Booths will be set up until Thursday in the Social Science Centre lobby and the Brescia College St. James lobby. As well, students can drop off all non-perishable food items from March 25-27 in the University Community Centre or Natural Science Centre and from April 1-3.