Renee Merrifield smiling and sitting on black couch with T-R-I-B-E posters behind her

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, Breakfast Club of Canada would like to pay tribute to our female leaders who help make sure we do everything we can for children. We are fortunate to have a strong, driven and dedicated group of women moving our organization forward and helping to shatter the glass ceiling for future generations.

One of them is Renee Merrifield. Not only has she been on our Board of Directors for the past 12 years, but she also became the first woman to take on the role of chair in the fall of 2019.

 

Chair of Breakfast Club of Canada’s Board of Directors
Founder and CEO of Troika Developments Inc.

 

Here are a few excerpts from her inspiring and thought-provoking message to the Club’s employees shortly after her appointment:

“As I was growing up, I watched classmates not have enough food to eat. I found out because several of them would ask to come to my house for supper. My parents always welcomed everyone with open arms and a full plate of food. I see now those same classmates have succeeded incredibly in life, and I know that it was because they had access to food – through school programs like the Club’s, as well as philanthropists like my parents.”

Renee at the breakfast program of Chief Tomat Elementary School (Kelowna, BC).

“Later on, I continued to learn some major life lessons as I travelled to other parts of the world. My experiences helped define who I have become. I learned the importance of listening to your gut instinct and never giving up. I learned to advocate and give a voice to those in need and to do everything you can to improve things that can be improved. Above all, I learned to be courageous.”

This same spirit of determination is what makes Renee a leading entrepreneur. She was named to the Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 list three years in a row (2017, 2018 and 2019).

What advice does Renee have for today’s young women?

“As women, we must help ourselves become everything we can be, elevating one another and pushing the envelope. We have to be authentic and do our best, whatever we take on. And if our best is enough to be recognized by the people around us, so much the better.”

 

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to Renee and all the women who have made the Club’s cause their own.

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

A big thank-you to Laetitia Lerond for the lovely message she posted recently on Instagram.

[Translation]

As I was sipping on my cold tea #mumlife watching my little guy at play, I thought back to the kids I was serving breakfast to this time last year. Right before the Easter weekend.

These kids leave home in the morning with an empty stomach. But Breakfast Club of Canada is there at their school to offer them a balanced breakfast before classes start.

That day was a celebration: we were serving up crêpes and every student got an Easter egg on their way out.

They filled me with such joy and energy. It was a beautiful day.

They laughed at my French accent and were fascinated by my swollen belly. They told me their stories. Some even talked me into giving them a second crêpe…

So as I drank my cold tea and watched my little guy entertaining himself, my heart ached for those kids, as I wondered what was on their plate these days.

The Club’s funds are being redistributed to high-risk communities and partners who are well placed to respond to the most pressing needs for food.

You can make a difference.
You can make a donation.

GIVE GENEROUSLY

Founded 26 years ago, Food for Thought is a small nonprofit in Kelowna, British Columbia, doing big things to eliminate hunger, one child at a time. Prior to the current pandemic, they provided breakfast to 1,600 children in 30 schools in Central Okanagan, to which the Club contributes, in addition to a backpack program that allows children to take home food for the weekends.

Now they have merged these initiatives to create food packages to be distributed in over 30 schools. As schools are spread throughout the neighbourhoods, using this network has the advantage of being easy to get to for parents who may not have access to a convenient means of transportation.

Food for Thought is making sure food packages continue to be delivered to each school, so that parents and students can pick up a package each week. With people lining up by 1 p.m., every donation is claimed within minutes. According to the Assistant Superintendent, there have been lots of positive stories. He has received many emails, and there have been parents in tears, as they did not think the food would continue once schools closed.

We cannot thank Food for Thought and their volunteers enough! Your time is invaluable, and we cannot overstate how much good it is doing for children and families.

Schools Tell Us the Difference Our Help Makes

 

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.

MAKE A DONATION

Following the provincial government’s decision to reopen elementary schools outside Greater Montreal, we have adjusted our approach to comply with public health requirements so that students can still enjoy a healthy breakfast in a nurturing, familiar setting. The changes we have made help ensure that food items can be distributed with minimal preparation and handling.

In Quebec, most schools receive support from Breakfast Club of Canada in the form of food shipped directly to them from our warehouse in Boucherville. With the cooperation of our wonderful partners, we have adapted our approach to bring individually packaged cold breakfasts to be served to every participating classroom. Of the schools who responded to our offer to resume breakfast program operations, 75% have decided to go ahead.

We know there are bound to be some hiccups and we are adjusting as we go. We will ask schools to share their success stories and the challenges they have encountered along the way to help us get ready for the 2020–2021 school year.

For further details on our adapted programs, please see our Toolkit – Breakfast Program Adapted to COVID-19 Protocols at the School’s Corner section of our website.

 

(Photo : Happiness Of Anna on Unsplash)

When the pandemic crisis struck, Breakfast Club of Canada quickly set up an Emergency Fund to ensure children and their families had access to healthy meals amid widespread school closures and breakfast program interruptions. Three months later, we are still receiving messages that speak volumes about the difference these efforts have made.

Here’s what one mother had to say about the help she has received from Regroupement Jeunesse en Marche du Québec, which was awarded a special grant by BCC:

“Hello,

I’d like to take a moment to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your donation. I have three young children, each with a different diagnosis (autism, severe language delay, behavioural disorder). On a regular day, my routine is already a challenge, but right now, in the middle of all this uncertainty, the word ‘challenge’ doesn’t quite cover it.

I’m writing this note so you understand how much your gift means to me. The food hamper was full to the brim with good things. There was nothing to sort through, clean or throw out. And there was respect, selflessness, compassion and love in every bite.

I thought it was IMPORTANT to share this with you.

Thank you for your generosity and your support.

F.”

Thanks to the combined efforts of many people, the donations we have received to date and the support of a number of partners who have joined with us to help the most vulnerable members of our society, we have been able to distribute special grants to organizations across Canada. Recently, the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation also contributed a generous $100,000 donation to help with this initiative. On behalf of children across the country, thank to the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation and all our partners for their ongoing support during this crisis!

You want to help make a difference?

MAKE A DONATION

A refreshing and nourishing fruit smoothie might be a perfect way to cool down at home. Smoothies are a magical food as they are both delicious and nutritious. They are also an excellent way to increase our fruit and veggie intake to ensure we are getting lots of vitamins and minerals in our diets, and are a great way to use leftover produce like ripe bananas. There is one downfall to the fruit-only smoothie, and it’s this: although they are initially quite filling, sometimes they leave us feeling hungry and unable to focus again within a few hours. Let’s dive into why this happens, and look at ways we can make sure our smoothies are satiating brain-power enhancers.

As previously mentioned, fruit is full of essential vitamins and minerals that are hard to find in other food groups. They are definitely part of a healthy diet and should be eaten daily. With that said, when fruit or any added sugars are eaten and digested, our bodies break it down into carbohydrates (or glucose, or sugar). Although carbohydrates sometimes get a bad reputation, they are essential for growing children as they are the body’s first source of energy. In saying that, moderation is key and it is easy to overdo the amount of natural sugars in a fruit smoothie. An excess of glucose, even in natural sugars from fruit, causes blood sugar levels to rapidly rise, and then quickly drop – think of a roller coaster. How does this manifest in a child’s behaviour? Think hyperactivity and potential behavioural problems initially, followed by the need for a nap or snacks soon after. When the body is experiencing a spike in blood sugar, studies report an increase in brain fog and an inability to concentrate, as well as behavioural problems. When the crash happens, fatigue sets in and it becomes challenging to stay on task.

So, how can we ensure our kiddos get the delicious breakfast smoothies they love while making sure they don’t fall victim to the blood sugar roller coaster and become hungry again right away? The answer is simple: mix up the fruit with sources of healthy fats, add sources of protein, and increase the fibre in your smoothies. Healthy fats, protein, and fibre all slow down digestion, meaning blood sugar levels rise and fall slower and with more stability. This ultimately allows students to maintain focus and stay full for much longer than when given a fruit only smoothie. So what can you add to your smoothies for blood sugar balance?

Delicious and affordable additions to your smoothie that contain both healthy fats and protein (a 2 for 1 special) include foods like 2% milk, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and seeds (chia, flaxseeds, any seed), Nuts and unsweetened nut butters can also do the job, and unsweetened seed butters (try sunflower or pumpkin seed butter) are great for nut-free alternatives. For an extra bit of fibre, spinach or any green leafy vegetable, the chia and flax seeds mentioned above, and even whole grain oats can be an easy addition. Try adding any of the above to your next summer smoothie and you will be sure to both see and feel the difference of a well-balanced breakfast smoothie.

Blueberry Smoothie

Serves 2 – Scale up or down as needed

Preparation time: 5 minutes

 Ingredients:

  •     1.5 cups milk (any type, can be dairy free milk or 2% milk for extra healthy fats and protein)
  •     1.5 cups frozen blueberries
  •     1 large extra ripe banana (riper bananas make sweeter smoothies. Bananas can also be frozen!)
  •     2 large handfuls of greens (spinach, baby kale, romaine – whatever!)
  •     1 tbsp chia seeds
  •     1 tbsp unsweetened nut or seed butter
  •     1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Instructions:

Combine in a blender until smooth. Serve and enjoy!

Green Smoothie

Serves 2 – Scale up or down as needed

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk (any type, can be plant based or dairy)
  • 5 cups frozen mangos
  • 1 large extra ripe banana
  • 2 large handfuls of greens (spinach kale- whatever!)
  • ½ cup of oats
  • ½ avocado
  • A few mint leaves

Instructions

In a blender, combine the oats and the milk. Let soak for 10 minutes.

Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve and enjoy!