In May 2021, Breakfast Club of Canada joined forces with Services Alimentaires Racines to set up a pilot project aimed at ensuring more children and youth could start their school day with a healthy breakfast.
Who is Services Alimentaires Racines?
Established in 2012, Services Alimentaires Racines is a social economy enterprise that provides food services to the local community in and around Huntingdon, Quebec. Fighting food insecurity at the local level is an important part of the organization’s mission.
Arthur-Pigeon School and Services Alimentaires Racines have been partnering to feed children for the past seven years. Staff members from the organization’s catering services go to the school to prepare meals that are then distributed to students in the surrounding area.
Last year, a community partnership agreement was entered into between Breakfast Club of Canada and Services Alimentaires Racines to bring a hybrid menu to the students of Arthur-Pigeon School. Under the terms of the project, financed by BCC, Services Alimentaires Racines supplies the grains, fruits and vegetables, and the Club supplies the proteins directly from its warehouse.
The agreement was renewed at the beginning of the 2021–2022 school year to ensure students at Arthur-Pigeon School continued to have access to the program. Currently, that translates to roughly 250 breakfasts every day.
Onward and upward
In 2022, the pilot project was extended to include other schools as well. In January, Chateauguay Valley Regional High School, in Ormstown, switched to a different approach. Instead of having supplies dropped off to the school, the program rolled out a hybrid menu, which was made possible by the community partnership between BCC and Services Alimentaires Racines. Another 100 students are now part of the pilot project as a result. In April 2022, Heritage Regional High School in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, followed in these same footsteps, adding yet another 100 students to the roster.
Another actor in the fight against food waste
Les Complices Alimentaires is a collective project whose goal is to repurpose fruits and vegetables. Thanks to their work, rescuing surplus and unsellable products from grocery stores and other retail establishments, students have access to a variety of fresh, seasonal produce throughout the year. This group undertaking, alongside Services Alimentaires Racines and Breakfast Club of Canada, allows students from all three schools to be exposed to a wider range of food. When the growing season is over, Les Complices Alimentaires cans and preserves whatever is left to be enjoyed during the winter months. That way, nothing goes to waste!
Good things come to those who eat
The official metrics for the pilot project have not yet been released, but here is a sneak peek at some of the benefits that have already been observed:
- An increase in daily attendance at Chateauguay Valley Regional High School, which climbed as high as 50% in only a few months.
- Easier use, distribution and consumption of local products.
- Streamlined discussions between BCC, Services Alimentaires Racines and other front-line organizations such as Moisson Sud-Ouest and Cantine pour tous as a result of the approach being used.
- A lower staff turnover rate at Services Alimentaires Racines and an increase in production output. With financial support from BCC and others, the company was actually able to upgrade some of the kitchen equipment.
- Reduction in food waste, thanks to the contributions of Les Complices Alimentaires, a collective social enterprise.
One year after the launch of the project, we are happy to report that a total 450 students from these three schools enjoy a healthy breakfast every morning. Communication with the administration of Arthur-Pigeon School is very smooth, thereby laying the groundwork for future opportunities with other nearby schools.