Every child at Marie Sharpe Elementary School is welcome to start the day with a healthy breakfast at the school thanks to the Breakfast Club of Canada.
Children who may not get breakfast at home and those who do get breakfast at home are all welcome to come and enjoy the breakfasts together, says program co-ordinator and teaching assistant Tracy Campbell, who was cooking up breakfast when we visited last week with teaching assistant Cindy Stockhill-Grant.
“Everyone is welcome,” Campbell says. “If you are here and want breakfast you can have it. It is for everyone.”
Monday through Thursday the breakfast includes cereal, yogurt with granola, toast, fruit such as oranges and apples, milk and apple or orange juice.
Friday is for special breakfasts. The menu may include scrambled egg with cheese burritos one week, or other special treats such as hot apple/cinnamon porridge, pancakes, or French toast on other Fridays in the month.
In the spring, Campbell says she might switch up the Friday offerings with fruit salad sometimes. Sometimes she says they also put items such as soy milk out for the kids to try.
The breakfast is held in the lunch room where the students are also encouraged to show good manners, saying please and thank-you and being kind and respectful of one another and cleaning up after themselves. A list of lunch room rules is posted on the wall.
All this week Walmart is continuing its two-week collection of donations from their customers specifically for the Marie Sharpe Breakfast Club of Canada program.
Principal Calvin Dubray welcomes the fundraising effort. He says 30 to 50 students regularly participate in the school’s breakfast club program which is one of two schools in School District 27 receiving support from the Breakfast Club of Canada. Anahim Lake Elementary/Junior Secondary is the other participating school.
Dubray says January and February are particularly difficult months for families and it is important to make sure kids get a good breakfast so they can concentrate on their studies.
“The food piece is important. Students need that energy to get their brains working,” Dubray says.
He says the Breakfast Club of Canada has provided more than $3,000 in equipment for the program including a freezer, stove, soup pots, utensils and a professional quality warming tray.
Walmart is one of many corporate supporters of the Breakfast Club of Canada program whose goal it is to empower every child to realize their full potential and recognize that a good day starts with a good breakfast.
Breakfast Club statistics indicate that one in seven children in Canada starts the school day on an empty stomach due to a lack of access to nutritious food.
Among aboriginal communities the ratio is actually one in four children going to school on an empty stomach. And among immigrants and newcomers, the risk is 2.5 times higher than in the general population.
Besides helping new breakfast programs open in various schools and communities across Canada the club is instrumental in driving social change on a larger scale, states their website.
“We believe in the importance of providing access to healthy food for children and teenagers, and training youths and volunteers, which in turn fosters a broader sense of engagement at the community level,” states the Breakfast Club of Canada.
The Breakfast Club of Canada program is supported by fundraising campaigns and activities 68.8 per cent, unsolicited individual donations 6.3 per cent; donated goods and services 18.7 per cent; parental contributions and other sources of revenue, 4.3 per cent; government grants two per cent.