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‘Children at Risk’ needs $75,000 to service food program for families living with autism

Rockland residents Sebastien Lauzon and Erin Henry say it has been difficult to afford basic essentials for their family of five.

“Because our kids have high needs, there’s multiple therapies that support them and its not cheap at all,” said Henry, who tells CTV Ottawa they have three adopted children each living with a disability.

“We have FAST autism, pretty high up there ADHD and others we are still working on assessments,” explained Lauzon.

To help alleviate costs, they rely on support from Ottawa-based not-for-profit group Children at Risk, which offers a food distribution program for families raising a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

“It removes stress and anxiety when it comes to food and also being able to offer what we need as adoptive parents for children with disabilities,” said Lauzon.

This year alone saw nearly 2,000 visits from families in need. But soon, that program could disappear for good.

“Unfortunately, that program I can’t get grants for,” said Children at Risk executive director Brenda Reisch.

In a letter to members and supporters, the executive director said fundraisers, grants, and donations have not recovered following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a lot of donors to give through Second Harvest Food Rescue,” said Reisch. “The food is free, but you have to pick it up, you have to have to buy gas… There is an expense to the program.”

The program’s finance committee has recommended discontinuing the food distribution program by mid-November. The only thing that could save it is raising a minimum of $75,000.

“It’s scary. I don’t make a lot of money, Seb doesn’t make a lot of money,” said Henry. “I don’t want to cut their therapies. I don’t want to cut their programs.”

Henry says finding the extra cash will be difficult. They don’t qualify for the food bank, so if the program ends, they’ll need to find other ways to cut costs.

“I always wanted to give my kids the extra curriculars and with the three of them it sure adds up,” she said.

The organization is looking for financial donations to help keep the program running. You can find more details on how to donate at  

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