By Skana Gee
They were a well-known and much-loved couple in Kingston: Larger-than-life Zalman (Zal) Yanovsky, former lead guitarist and singer for the rock band Lovin’ Spoonful, and his “anchor” Rose Richardson.
When Zal died suddenly in 2002, just before turning 58, Rose created a fund in his honour to help The Food Sharing Project, which has operated breakfast, lunch and hearty snack programs in the city since 1982. Friends and colleagues contributed $20,000 in seed money to launch the endowment.
“We love food and we want people to eat and be healthy and happy. It’s a bit astonishing, how many children are at school hungry,” says Zal’s daughter, Zoe, in a video about the program.
Now known as The Rose and Zal Yanovsky School Breakfast Fund – Rose died in 2005 – the endowment with the Community Foundation for Kingston and Area provides funding to The Food Sharing Project for food, equipment and supplies, while the 75 participating elementary schools provide space and volunteers to run a program tailored to their needs.
It’s a gift of not just food, but care and hope. “It nourishes the mind, body and soul,” says one staff member who’s been involved.
Adds principal Brenda Moore, who runs the project: “We know that you can’t teach a child anything if they’re hungry. That’s got to be the first order of the day.” An inspiring speech by Brenda about the program can be found here.
Thanks in large part to an annual fundraising breakfast, during which restaurant-goers make a donation to the fund, The Rose and Zal Yanovsky School Breakfast Fund now stands at $167,000, with close to $36,000 donated over the years to the Food Sharing Project, which these days helps more than 3,800 students.
“The hope is that people will leave a donation on the way out, and they certainly do – they do so in droves,” notes Zoe.
Skana Gee is Communications Coordinator with Community Foundations of Canada.