Volunteers sitting in a line with flowers and baloons


As we celebrate International Volunteer Day, Breakfast Club of Canada would like to thank the 17,500 adult volunteers and 10,300 youth volunteers who rise and shine every morning to get a good healthy breakfast ready for 240,000 students in 1,809 schools across the country. For the past 25 years, you have been the driving force behind the success of our mission. Without you, the Club’s nation-wide network of breakfast programs would not exist.

Today, we’d like to shine the spotlight on the work done by the members of the Association des personnes handicapées de Chibougamau-Chapais (APHCC). APHCC Executive Director Lynda Bubar explains: “As part of the association’s fight against poverty and marginalization, we developed a pilot project in November 2010 to serve breakfast and lunch at La Porte-du-Nord, a local high school.”

For this initiative, the cafeteria uses the services of people with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. This gives them an opportunity to work in a stable, well-supervised environment suited to their individual needs. As a result, they are less socially isolated and feel like they belong to a unified community. As everyone gets better acquainted, the differences between them become less apparent, and individual gifts and talents shine through. The students are respectful, and volunteers with disabilities enjoy the important role they play in the school.

Routines and tasks are planned around volunteers’ capacities, their ability to learn and even their specific personalities. They can therefore progress at their own pace, take on new challenges and become more confident. Once they have reached a certain level of comfort in their activities, the APHCC then gradually increases the degree of difficulty. They can also use the opportunity to gain personal and job-related skills.

Bubar explains that the work experience is appealing and enriching. Not only is it a stable source of nutrition for both students and volunteers, but it also provides an environment that is mindful of varying aptitudes and needs. Plus, it makes people with disabilities feel valued and needed. These are all meaningful benefits. As a result of their involvement, the volunteers have become active, engaged members of their community. They are also instrumental in helping people understand and appreciate individual differences. It is a wonderful example of a hands-on awareness and education program in action – and a great opportunity to bring more visibility to people living with disabilities.

The impacts of the project are tangible. Volunteers find the experience rewarding at a personal level. For others, it helps them maintain an emotional balance. And many of them say that it fills a fundamental need of feeling like they’re part of a family.

Thinking back, one volunteer stands out in Bubar’s mind. “Diane, who had severe physical limitations, volunteered with the breakfast program for five whole years. She’d show up for her shift without fail, always on time and always ready to work. She took her role very seriously. Everyone on the team and all of the students loved her. And she got a lot out of it in terms of self-esteem.”

“The relationship between students and the APHCC team is very important,” added Bubar. “We are very lucky to be able to serve a healthy breakfast every morning in such a friendly, inclusive environment. This endeavour has made it possible for the team, volunteers, job readiness program participants and, of course, students to become more caring, compassionate people. It’s very heartwarming to see.”

Thank you to all APHCC volunteers for making their community a better place!

Little girl smiling and enjoying her breakfast of grapes bread and eggs

This month, we are putting a spotlight on the breakfast program at Central Community School in Port Coquitlam, BC. Central Community School has been a part of the Breakfast Club of Canada family since 2015. The program started off small – serving an average of 20 to 25 students out of a school population of 300+.

Last year, the principal and breakfast coordinator made a conscious decision to increase engagement with the breakfast program and reach more students. There were a number of factors that contributed to the success of this initiative.

  1. Instead of serving breakfast out of the kitchen, breakfast is now served in the gym. This new location provides a larger, welcoming environment and enough space for students, parents and staff to congregate, have a bite to eat and connect in the morning before school starts.
  2. The site coordinator often communicates with other breakfast coordinators that run bustling programs in the district. They discuss best practices and use one another as sounding boards for new ideas.
  3. They have leveraged their breakfast program as an opportunity to engage with their local community: one morning, the Port Coquitlam fire department hosted a school-wide pancake breakfast!

Most importantly, the staff at Central Community acknowledge that a successful breakfast program requires a team effort. The program is supported by numerous teachers, youth workers, educational assistants, parent volunteers, student volunteers from the neighbouring high school and the principal. The program now feeds 90 to 100 students each morning!

Thank you, Central Community, for allowing us to be a part of your exciting journey!

Two women ready to serve breakfast with trays full of eggs, bananas and muffins


It’s early in the morning in a New Brunswick high school. Classes haven’t begun yet but, if you listen closely, you can hear music coming from inside the building. If you follow your ears – and your nose, as the smell of freshly baked blueberry muffins wafts through the air – you’ll soon run into the Breakfast Club of Canada cart, rolling along from floor to floor. And it’s all because of Colleen Dunnet and her cooking class students, who deliver tasty breakfast treats with a smile every single morning.

As fate would have it, Colleen – an English teacher by profession – was asked to sub for the school’s cooking teacher five years ago. From that point on, there was no turning back! She has become more and more involved with the Club and the students ever since.

Colleen loves to cook. So she took it upon herself to whip up a special menu when the breakfast program started up at her school. Cue the mini-quiches, muffins galore, breakfast burritos, scones, cheese, apple salsa and so much more. The sheer variety rivalled anything you’d find on a restaurant menu!

But what’s even more impressive is her commitment to kicking things up a notch – WITH kids and FOR kids – to have her cooking class students actually make food for the breakfast program. Everybody has a clear job and learns their recipes by heart. Every week, they get together to create a meal plan for the following week. Note, however, that nothing gets prepared and frozen in advance. The muffins, scones and mini-quiches are cooked up that morning and served piping hot by the student volunteers. Mmmmm! If you close your eyes, I’m sure you can catch a mouth-watering whiff of those scones!

But despite already being a planner extraordinaire, Colleen had to hone her technique as the Club began to serve more and more students. When she first started, she had about a dozen breakfasts to make on a daily basis. Three years later, she was up to 60, and that number has since leapt to anywhere between 200 and 250. That’s quite the progress – and quite the organizational feat!

In the past two years, the cart concept has really caught on with students. And it was all Colleen’s idea – in order to avoid the potential embarrassment of being labelled a “Breakfast Club kid.” Today, whenever they hear the music, they all crowd around the cart, drawn in by the aroma of baked goods straight out of the oven. The chatting and laughing around the cart can be heard echoing through the hallways, making for a warm, inviting atmosphere, not unlike a coffee machine in an office. So that made it Colleen 1, embarrassment 0.

But Colleen didn’t stop there. More recently, she noticed that some students were coming to school without lunch. That’s when the idea for a “serve yourself fridge” came to her. The result: a well-stocked collection of breakfast, lunch and snack items that students can help themselves to any time they feel like it. With no fear of being looked down on.

What an incredible show of dedication! Being the only grown-up on the breakfast program team can be a daunting task, but the feeling of gratification it gives Colleen makes it all worthwhile. Through the Club, she has learned that hunger and poverty can lurk anywhere, but coming together as a community can make all the difference. Thank you, Colleen, for giving back with such passion and kindness!


child playing with play-doh


What an emotion-packed morning we just had!

When our daycare was picked to help essential workers by taking care of what is most precious to them – their children – we came up with the idea of doing something special.

My colleague and I, working with the administration of Trait-d’Union School in Sainte-Thérèse and BCC, decided to offer a “breakfast haven” to children caught up in this whirlwind of change.

Seeing all these kids walk into a completely new daycare, with new educators, new friends, a new routine – a new everything! – was hard. But it also gave us an opportunity to make a difference. We offered them a brief escape, where the only thing they had to think about was having fun, celebrating a birthday, drawing a picture or playing checkers, while they waited for everyone to finish eating. That was our goal, and we achieved it with caring and compassion for a bunch of youngsters who are feeling a little lost right now.

I’m so grateful to my “partner in crime,” Monique Plastre, for going along with all my ideas and plans. We hope to be able to keep delivering on this promise for as long as we are needed.

Together, we can lend a helping hand and make sure everyone is safe.

The M&M Team (Monique Papin, Monique Plastre)
Trait-d’Union School, Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec

Women holding child


Christine* is a single mom with three young children. She, like many others, has lost her job due to the COVID-19 crisis. Thankfully, her government benefits have come in quickly: her fridge is practically bare. She has no choice but to go to the grocery store because getting her order delivered can take up to two weeks and social distancing means she has nobody to look after her children while she shops. So she heads out, with all three in tow. But the sideways looks and stares she gets once there are not exactly welcoming. “I can’t believe she’s putting her kids in danger like that,” she overhears one person murmur behind her back. Her eyes brimming with tears, she puts a few basic essentials in her cart, pays and leaves. Fortunately, one of the staff members from the Centre de pédiatrie sociale de Laval (CPSL) is able to help by picking up her groceries at the store and dropping them off to her front door.

These are trying times for us all, but vulnerable families are struggling more than most. Thanks to the support of donors, we can find ways to make life a little easier for parents like Christine.

*Not her real name.

Thank you to the CPSL for this touching story, which is a reminder of how difficult things are for many families across the country during the pandemic. Single parenting is already a tough job. If you add unemployment, illness and the heavy emotional toll to the mix, the effect can be devastating.

Breakfast Club of Canada is reallocating funds to local community organizations who already have connections with families in need. We are proud to support mothers like Christine and parents across Canada who are doing everything they can to make sure their children get enough to eat in less-than-ideal circumstances.

Across the country, through the COVID-19 Emergency Fund, Breakfast Club of Canada collaborates with community organizations to ensure children receive the nutrition they need during this crisis. Since schools closed a few weeks ago, the Club rolled up its sleeves to find solutions to reach children. Stay in touch for new stories on our #LocalHeroes!


Two teens giving a thumbs up


I’m a nurse working for the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Family and Community Wellness Centre. My community has been in lockdown for over a month. No one is allowed to leave or enter in an effort to keep COVID-19 out. Access is given only to essential workers.

This lockdown is especially difficult for families, as many get the bulk of their groceries in the city of Thompson. There is only one store in the community, and it often has long line-ups. This is due to the customer limit to practice social distancing. Community members must wait outside in line. Wait times are often two to three hours on income days.

The thought of families struggling to get adequate food for their children grieved me. So I took the initiative to find a way to help them. I applied for the Breakfast Club Special Grant with the goal of reaching 300 children by June.

In April, we made 48 packages and delivered them to Nisichawayasihk homes. Approximately 190 kids were reached in one evening with the help of three volunteers.

Brigette Towers responded to my Facebook post looking for volunteers, not knowing her household was one of the many families on the recipient list. She helped me make the breakfast packages and deliver half of them. Larson and Keith Dumas (brothers) helped me deliver the other half.

The breakfast packages were very unexpected. The families were all surprised, thankful and glad to receive one.

We’ve even received comments from kids as young as five. One of them thought it was Christmas already and said, “You brought me a present!”

Thank you, Breakfast Club of Canada!

Leanna Anderson, LPN
Interim Program Coordinator
Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative
Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program
Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Family and Community Wellness Center

Across the country, through the COVID-19 Emergency Fund, Breakfast Club of Canada collaborates with community organizations to ensure children receive the nutrition they need during this crisis. Since schools closed a few weeks ago, the Club rolled up its sleeves to find solutions to reach children. Stay in touch for new stories on our #LocalHeroes!

Your donation can help make a difference – right now.