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.


Children drawing of human and flower


This week, we are bringing you an interview with Mary D’Alton, the person in charge of strategic development at Nutrition for Learning (N4L), one of the recipients of our special grants. Join us for a closer look at the local heroes in the N4L community in the midst of this pandemic.

Thank you Mary for joining us today. Do you have testimonials of heroes within your initiative (volunteers, delivery people, etc.) to share with us?

Personally, I do not have a single testimonial. It starts with the board of directors whose main concern is ensuring children continue to have nutritious snacks; it then moves along to the volunteer coordinator who ensures there are enough volunteers in place to make this a success. And of course the volunteers who said “yes” knowing that this is an essential service and are an extension of a front-line worker. Next are the drivers (especially Neil) who tirelessly get up all hours of the morning, make pickups, load trucks, create routes and drive around the city making stops, always ensuring the safety of the volunteers and families and always with a smile on their face. Neil really loves his job and is so dedicated to ensuring that everyone who needs something, gets something.

What is the impact of giving food to families in need in your community during the COVID-19 crisis?

From the look on parents’ and kids’ faces alike, the impact that the Nutrition for Learning program is making is huge. When we put the box of food on the cart, the look of relief is apparent. Not only do parents know that their kids are getting the same nutritious snacks as at school, but also the extra food items we are including are taking a little financial stress off the families. The younger kids are so excited to get the lunch bag to see what is inside.

Have you seen an increase in families and children asking for food?

There definitely has been an increase. I would think as more and more parents are finding it difficult to make ends meet, whatever we include takes the pressure off the grocery list. We have had so many wonderful additions/food donations to this program. I am truly amazed at the companies who are helping Nutrition for Learning. Working hand in hand with the Food Banks has enabled Nutrition for Learning to add some awesome staples – salad kits and hot oatmeal, to name a couple.



Would you like to share a portrait of one of your volunteers or someone else working on the field within your initiative?

The principal at Central Public School in Cambridge. She has been with us every Thursday since the program started.  She shows up every week and greets and speaks with every student/parent, checking in with them to make sure they are doing okay. She has been continually reaching out to parents from her school and has increased the number of families that come every week. Last Thursday, there must have been 25 families lined up when we got there.

Everyone at N4L is a community hero. Throughout this pandemic experience, I’ve met lots of positive and inspiring people who work and volunteer at N4L.

If I had to choose one, I have been with Neil most of the time… Neil has been a wonderful role model, patient and positive. He makes volunteers feel appreciated. Neil truly loves his job. It is very noticeable in his work and the smile he has every morning.

As the weeks pass, the need rises. I am noticing in some locations families are coming out and using the service more so than four weeks prior.

We have some who are coming out to pick stuff up for friends, family members and neighbours so they do not need to leave their home.

Do you have funny or happy moments in the field you would like to share with us?

Wednesday (April 15th) we stopped at St. Andrew’s Public School in Cambridge. In addition to everything else, we were giving out Bear Paws. Neil opened a box of Bear Paws and found banana flavour. When he asked the parent if her child wanted banana flavour, she started jumping up and down saying to her daughter, “We love banana! That’s our favorite flavour!” It was so funny to watch both mom and daughter get so excited over banana-flavoured Bear Paws. Neil gave them an extra box and she kept saying thank you, thank you, thank you!

The volunteers that I have worked with are amazing. No matter the weather or the number of families we serve, everyone always has a smile on their face. The more families we serve, the bigger the smile on our faces. Parents are greeted with respect and families are so happy we are there. They are appreciative that Nutrition for Learning is still there even though schools are closed.

Many have commented that Nutrition for Learning being there is bigger than just the food. It is an outing for some and to see happy volunteer faces makes their day a little brighter too.

This afternoon, I ran out to grab some groceries. A lady I have never met was walking out of the grocery store. She stopped and asked if I work for Nutrition for Learning (I am assuming she saw me get out my jeep, with the Nutrition for Learning magnets). I said yes, I am a volunteer. She was so thankful for everything we do. She kept thanking me and genuinely told me to stay safe… That’s what makes this so rewarding: how the community appreciates the service we’re providing to those in need now more than ever.

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. Stay in touch for new stories on our #LocalHeroes!

Your donation can help make a difference – right now.