Two kids eating and drinking water with blurred background of other children

Today marks the start of a new school year for thousands of young students in Quebec. They will meet their new classmates of the next months, begin building new habits and routines, and start developing trusting relationships with the teachers and school staff who will guide them toward success for the year to come!

During summer break, Breakfast Club of Canada thought about these children. Serving 35,461,913 breakfasts every year in a country as vast as ours is not something that happens overnight. We pour our hearts into preparing and planning for the school year, so that children can focus on succeeding.

We asked school principals, teachers and volunteers who operate breakfast programs to explain what the implementation of a breakfast program entails. From the very start of the implementation of a breakfast program, through the accompaniment of Breakfast Club of Canada, to the official grand opening – this “behind the scenes” video proves that when we work together, we can provide an equal chance of success to ALL children!

 

 

Volunteers with child making breakfast

Every year, Breakfast Club of Canada relies on over 17,500 volunteers across Canada. These individuals are the first point of contact for children who attend their school’s breakfast program.

Day after day, they are present, preparing breakfast in the early morning hours to be ready to serve the children upon their arrival at school. However, breakfast is not their only priority; volunteers are also there to comfort the children, to ask them about their families, or simply to chat and laugh together. Most importantly, they earn the children’s trust.

 

 

“What I love about the club is that, here, the children all come together – it’s like a little family. They are all my children in a way, they’re all in my heart.” – Nadia, Head Volunteer

Adults aren’t the only ones giving their time to the Breakfast Club: other students attending a school where there is a breakfast program have the opportunity to become volunteers. This allows them to gain culinary skills and a sense of responsibility, two things that will come in handy later in life. They are also sensitized to food insecurity, academic success and social and emotional well-being, bringing to light the positive influence they can have on their peers.

 

 

“I started volunteering in grade 5 because I liked seeing kids eat breakfast before school. I knew which kids didn’t eat breakfast, because they complained about how hungry they were all day. I knew that if I was a volunteer there, more of my friends would come eat breakfast at the club!” – Amy, young volunteer

They all come from different generations and backgrounds, but the volunteers all have two things in common: a big heart and a dependable alarm clock! Some volunteer as a family, others on their own. Some have 2 hours to give per week, others come once a month. The Club adapts to the availability of the volunteers, and understands scheduling challenges and the efforts volunteers make to give back to their community. In return, the volunteers get to see smiling faces every morning as the children line up and see the meal that was lovingly prepared for them!

Are you interested in volunteering at a breakfast club near you? Complete this online form!*

We thank all our present (and future) volunteers for their precious help!

* PLEASE NOTE THAT, FOR THE TIME BEING, VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE IN QUEBEC ONLY.

 

Children hugging a woman

Today, Breakfast Club of Canada celebrates women! Women who wake up before dawn to take a few minutes to work out before the morning routine starts. Women who put their careers aside to care for their children. Women who work all day long only to start their second shift when they get home in the evening, taking care of their family in the home they built. Women who are volunteers in breakfast clubs, ensuring thousands of children have the energy they need to learn every day. And our two vice-presidents who work with passion and devotion every day to allow as many children as possible to reach their full potential.

 

Women play a big part in our organization, representing 83% of the staff. The same trend prevails in school nutrition programs, which are often run by women (teachers, cooks, monitors, volunteers, etc.) who have access to tools, support and capacity development opportunities. It is not uncommon for many of these social leaders to access higher levels of employment or re-enter the labor market.

By alleviating the morning routine, Breakfast Club of Canada promotes a healthy work-life balance. This viewpoint is shared by many of the participants in the Global Child Nutrition Forum who reported that school nutrition programs promote gender equality.

We would like to thank all the women who are instrumental to our organization and contribute to the well-being of children.

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

 

 

Children sitting around a cafeteria table talking

It’s a shocking fact that 1 in 4 Canadian children start their day hungry, meaning more than a million kids don’t have access to a healthy meal before they go to school. This would be unacceptable anywhere, but in a prosperous country like Canada, this is unimaginable. The time for action is now.

Breakfast programs in our schools have a tremendous impact on a child’s life, on school communities and on families. By providing access to a nutritious meal to our children as they start their day, they learn more easily, and have the chance to develop their full potential.

The 2019 Federal Budget included an unfunded commitment to a National School Food Program. While this commitment is a promising step, without funding the promise is empty and children across the country are kept waiting.

With the federal election fast approaching, we don’t need just a campaign promise, we need action.

Let’s not forget that Canada remains the only country in the G7 that does not have a federally funded school nutrition program.

As the school year comes to an end, our team at Breakfast Club of Canada and our field partners across the country are calling on the government to immediately provide core funding for a National School Food Program to ensure our kids have access to a healthy meal when they return to class in September.

As a nation, we are asking you to stand with us and share our call to action to send a message to the government that our kids can’t wait any longer. With your help, we can ensure that no child starts their day on an empty stomach.

Together, we can make history in our country and make a sustained difference in the lives of children across Canada.

The time is now, their time is now!

Daniel Germain
President and Founder of Breakfast Club of Canada

Adult and child holding hands

Breakfast programs: a great source of motivation for kids!

A breakfast program provides kids with more than just a nutritious meal at the start of the school day. It also has a positive effect on their families’ morning routines. With the first day of school rapidly approaching, many parents are happy and relieved that their children will once again be spending a portion of each weekday morning with the Club.

“It’s a wonderful idea,” says one mother, whose 9-year-old attends Armand-Lavergne School. “And it makes our mornings as a family so much more pleasant.” She is not the only one who feels that way.

According to a study conducted by Breakfast Club of Canada in partnership with HEC Montréal’s marketing department, 75% of parents asked felt that their mornings had become less stressful and easier to manage since their child joined a breakfast program. A full 50% of respondents said that their child did not eat at home because they weren’t hungry, wanted to sleep more or ran out of time. Parents also noticed that their children were coming home with a taste for new foods. The Club makes a point of varying its menus to include less common food items, allowing students to broaden their palates.

Parents aren’t the only ones looking forward to the start of breakfast programs. Kids are excited too.

Amina, a former Club member and volunteer, says that “it’s a lot more than putting breakfast on the table. It’s more about having a safe place to go in your community and it doesn’t matter why you need breakfast or why you’re coming to the Breakfast Club. All that matters is that you’re there, you have your breakfast that you need and you have a loving place you can go to, a safe environment, a welcoming environment.”

A Quebec boy who volunteers in his breakfast program says that, for him, “it’s like a little family, because we’re here every morning and we eat breakfast together.”

“Every school should have [a breakfast program],” declared the mother of a 6-year-old at Saint-Zotique School. We do our utmost to serve communities and listen to our members. We work hard to give as many children as possible access to a breakfast program.

Our heartfelt thanks go to all the parents and children who place their trust in us every morning.

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Chairs stacked up on desks with a blurred background of a classroom

Excitement is in the air as the first day of school approaches! For the kids, of course, but also for the staff. And there’s no better time for us to show our appreciation for the teachers, school administrators and other employees who engage with students every day and play a key role in the success of their schools’ breakfast programs. Some open the doors and set up the room, even before the volunteers arrive. Others greet the kids or chat with them while they eat. Still others work on the behind-the-scenes logistics of running this sort of program in an educational institution. Each person’s contribution is essential to the success of the program and the kids who rely on it.

“A girl in Grade 2 sees our breakfast program as a home now, where she is respected, belongs and taken care of,” explains Sarah Dropko, a teacher at Manitoba’s Hazelridge School. “In the past, the little girl would come to school tired, hungry, and unwilling to focus and learn. Now, she comes in each morning knowing she is going to have breakfast and friends to sit and talk to.”

At Lawrence Sinclair Memorial School in Manitoba, teacher Sharon Hansen says that the students “are withdrawn because of empty bellies. We, as a school staff, are very grateful that Breakfast Club of Canada is here provide the funds to feed our students so that they can enjoy the day in school.”

According to Stasia Uhlmann, a teacher at West Central High School in Alberta, “a 15-year-old boy with autism was drawn to our breakfast table, and for the first few months of school he’d just watch and shake his head if he was offered anything. Over time, he became more and more willing to come to get a piece of fruit or a yogurt, and now, he is not only a regular attender, but also volunteers every morning.”

Many educators have seen the benefits of a breakfast program in their schools.

Samantha Johnson teaches nutrition at Chilliwack Middle School in B.C. She reports seeing “a vast improvement in student focus and retention in class because students have been able to fuel their body with breakfast.”

At Henderson Elementary School in B.C., teacher Nicole Burnett has found that “the children are much calmer and better prepared for their day when they sit down and enjoy breakfast together before the day begins.”

Of 41 schools surveyed by the Club six months after the launch of their breakfast program, a full 50% saw an improvement in attentiveness in class. The number of interventions needed to address behavioural issues also dropped by 71%.

Everyone at Breakfast Club of Canada would like to thank you for all your hard work and commitment to your school’s breakfast program. To all teachers, school administrators and other staff members, we wish you a wonderful back-to-school season.

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