In Canada, March is Nutrition Month, and once again this year, Breakfast Club of Canada is seizing the opportunity to discuss all aspects of healthy nutrition.
On the menu this week: the Nutrition Committee
Healthy eating lies at the heart of the school food vision. If going to school on a full stomach can help children maintain proper concentration throughout the day, it’s easy to see how a rich and nutritious diet can enhance their focus even more.
Constantly seeking to improve and further support the school breakfast programs, the Club counts on the assistance of its Nutrition Committee. Made up of Club employees whose expertise are in healthy eating, school food and food security, the committee acts an advisory board and a liaison body for schools and on-the-ground partners across the nation.
Working collaboratively, the committee members tackle issues and challenges that their respective communities and schools face. Furthermore, the committee works on developing resources and tools that help to further support the growth of all BCC school breakfast programs.
At the organizational level, the Nutrition Committee offers advice on food procurement, food access, and nutrition standards related to school food programing. For instance, the committee is currently working on developing a strategy to encourage social equity and diversity in breakfast programs. Nutrition Committee members also provides recommendations on food products, recipes and menus for those overseeing and managing the programs.
As we celebrate Nutrition Month, let’s show some appreciation for the work accomplished by the Nutrition Committee members!
Programs Support Advisor
Catherine works hand in hand with the Club coordinators assigned to the different regions of Quebec, where close to 450 breakfast programs co-exist. She ensures the various programs align and acts as an advisor who provides advice and opinions on best practices, tools and processes.
A nutrition graduate, she invites parents and teachers to be open-minded in the kitchen: “We shouldn’t hesitate to present variety on children’s plates, nor should we get discouraged if they don’t show enthusiasm towards certain foods. Tastes evolve quickly at a young age, and the sooner we educate children about healthy nutrition, the more we increase their chances of succeeding in the long run.” Beyond quantity and quality of ingredients, Catherine invests much effort evaluating how to improve the overall meal experience so to impact youth positively in their development.
Senior Program Coordinator
Chelsey is the main point of contact for close to 90 schools in Nunavut, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and southern Alberta. The main focus of her role is to support schools to run high quality breakfast programs across the board.
Over the past three years she has witnessed the Club’s support increase in Western Canada, where the number of children reached by Breakfast Club of Canada continues to grow. All breakfast programs are unique in that they adapt to their local realities and needs, and the committee is a great way to discuss and collaborate on resources to support nutrition in programs across Canada. Because the region she covers is massive and includes several Indigenous communities, the inclusion of culture and food traditions in programs are high on her priority list. She believes that now more than ever, it is important to stay engaged at the community level to be able to respond to local needs as they arise.
Programs Coordinator, Montreal and Lanaudière (Quebec)
Virginie is the most recent addition to the Nutrition Committee. As a dietician, she is particularly interested in public health and food security. Her experience makes her an advocate against the feelings of guilt that many parents face. She feels strongly that getting kids to eat healthy is about balance and variety, not perfection.
Representing the Club on community-level engagement projects such as La Cantine pour tous, she sees her role as that of the facilitator of a complex multistakeholder network whose goal is to reinforce collaboration to give way to more cohesive and sustainable food aid services. Mindful of letting the community speak for itself and of allowing for a diversity of voices to be heard, Virginie approaches her work with sensitivity and scrutiny.
Coordinator, Manitoba and Alberta North-East
Maxine understands the realities of rural and remote communities, she completed her Master’s thesis at the University of Manitoba studying the sustainability of school breakfast programs. Her day-to-day role involves working closely and collaboratively with schools in both urban and northern communities.
A large portion of Maxine’s work is dedicated to food accessibility projects. Transportation and food availability are very real issues for some of the schools she supports, which in turn affects the cost and quality of products. Beyond her day-to-day work with schools, she is deeply motivated by the public engagement aspect of her work: “It’s important for people to know that the socioeconomic situation of families is not the only factor explaining why a child might go to school on an empty stomach. Many other factors can come into play.”
Are you looking for ideas of activities to do or recipes to try during spring break or Nutrition Month? Check out our recipe book!