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Feed the Meter campaign gains council support

Parking fees by donation are expected to continue for the next two years with council support of continuing the annual December Feed the Meter campaign.

The Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation has raised funds through the campaign in Picton since 2011 that go toward its Food for Learning program in local schools.

The foundation’s Student Nutrition Program Co-ordinator Kellie Brace told council in April the signature campaign will be more important than ever this year.

“Due to the provincial job action in the education sector in the fall of 2019, and the COVID-19 pandemic requiring social isolation, Food for Learning has not been able to hold other scheduled fundraising activities this year. This will have a significant impact on our funds available to support programs during the 2020-2021 academic year.”

In addition, she noted the emergency support provided to families during school closures has been much greater than anticipated, requiring the foundation to use a great deal of its cash reserves.

“Looking ahead, we are going to be needing to actively fundraise to meet the increased demand on our programs that we are anticipating starting in September,” said Brace.

All students attending school in Prince Edward County have access to breakfast, lunch and snack programs through Food for Learning’s nutrition programs.

“Every student, regardless of their life’s circumstances, deserves to have access to a dependable supply of nutritious food, especially while they are attending school,” said Brace. “Proper nutrition helps to ensure that each child has the best school day possible – academically, physically, socially and emotionally. Food for Learning provides support to local schools that are offering these programs – support with administration, program development, food procurement and funding.”

Feed the Meter is a holiday tradition in Picton, Trenton and Belleville. Council first joined the program in 2011.

During the campaign, Food for Learning places signs asking people to voluntarily pay for parking. In 2019, $2,602 was collected. In 2018 the donations tallied $2,916.

Since amalgamation in 1998, council has approved free parking within Picton for the month of December at the request of the Picton Business Improvement Association, to encourage shopping in the downtown core. In 2019, council amended the parking bylaw to allow for free parking in Picton every year from Dec. 1 to March 31. This year, due to COVID-19, the municipality offered free parking until July 1.

Committee of the Whole approved the request at Thursday’s meeting. Final approval comes at council’s next meeting.

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