ORILLIA, ONT. -- The Sharing Place Food Shelter in Orillia is turning to the public to help feed young school children who need a healthy breakfast before starting their day.

The Orillia food bank helps, on average, about 1,700 people every month at its local centre.

This school year, the food bank has taken on the task of trying to get healthy food to schools after the regular school food programs had to stop because of the pandemic.

The Sharing Place executive director, Chris Peacock, says costs have been rising when it comes to the school food programs. "We're seeing the volumes continue to grow as CERB comes to an end."

The food centre's program coordinator Nancy Hannah says the breakfast program is overwhelmed with students in need.

"Of the 13 schools that did reach out to us, the majority of them indicated they have over 100 students every day arriving that are supported by their breakfast programs. We are currently only able to support those schools for up to 80 students," Hannah says.

The schools spread the food among all the students, so no one goes hungry.

Peacock says, unfortunately, several schools had to be turned away because of the costs. "We need a full $80,000. Currently, right now, we've reached $30,000, so we need to reach that $80,000 to be able to sustain the program for the rest of the school year."

Peacock is hoping local businesses step up to make up the shortfall, saying they can help if they have the funding in place.

The centre is also looking for volunteers to help deliver food. They are encouraging parents who may have helped with in-school programs in the past to help sort and separate the food.