Volunteers

 

From May 16 to June 16, 2022, over 3,000 breakfast programs from across the country are invited to join Breakfast Club of Canada’s Breakfast in Unison to celebrate the outstanding work of the volunteers and school teams who devote their time and energy to ensure everything runs smoothly and children can get a healthy start to the day.

 

In the weeks leading up to these celebrations, schools and community organizations were asked to nominate a Breakfast Champion whose drive and determination are vital to their program. The result: over a hundred nominees from coast to coast to coast!

 

A special thank-you to all our Breakfast Champions from everyone here at BCC for what you do, day in and day out, for the next generation.

 

Alberta
  • Karen Alook, volunteer at St. Theresa School for the past year: Karen is the head cook at the school and enthusiastically creates breakfasts for the students that are nutritious and yummy. She regularly jokes around with the students, making the start of the day a great time for all.
  • Colleen Atkinson, volunteer at Wabamun School for the past 7 years: Colleen is a very dedicated volunteer who has coordinated our breakfast program. All our students and staff know her and look forward to her daily interactions as she hands out breakfast each morning.
  • Josée Bernard, volunteer at the Centre-Nord School Board for the past 2 years: Josée is very dedicated to the breakfast program. It benefits students who wouldn’t otherwise have breakfast before arriving at the school. She is also attentive to students who have less to eat and makes sure that the leftovers are never wasted.
  • Ellen Bessala, volunteer at Bishop McNally High School for the past 4 years: Ellen is one of the friendly faces who greets students at our school each morning. Her fun-loving energy draws students over to receive a healthy meal to start their day. Going above and beyond is second nature to her.
  • Rhonda Collins, volunteer at St. Paul Alternate Education Centre for the past 7 years: Rhonda is an absolute pleasure to work with. She comes to school early each day to start breakfast for our whole school’s student population and does it with a smile on her face.
  • Jane Geddes, volunteer at Brentwood Elementary School for the past 2 years: Not only does Jane help prepare the muffins that kids enjoy daily, but she also ensures we always have breakfast items readily available.
  • Annik Guevremont, volunteer at La Mosaïque School for the past 7 years: Annik is always on task! She makes sure that every single student who takes part in our program eats their breakfast.
  • Shannon Hicks, volunteer at Crowther Memorial Junior High School for the past 3 years: Shannon prepares the breakfasts every morning, delivers the containers and helps other volunteers.
  • Jamie Hill, volunteer at Dr. Ken Sauer School for the past 2 years: Jamie is a wonderful lady who cares deeply about supporting our students. She makes them feel like they are eating their breakfast at a restaurant and chats with them in the morning. It sets them up for a successful day.
  • Ashton Ketchum, young volunteer at St. Mary’s Catholic School for the past year: Ashton was the only student to step forward as a volunteer to help our program operate. He takes great pride in assisting with the selection of the offerings for our school’s daily breakfast and sets everything out.
  • Shelly Lagran, volunteer at Southview Elementary School for the past 4 years: Before we had funding from BCC, Shelly used to volunteer and made sure the students had something to eat. She would go grocery shopping, as well as bake muffins at home on the weekends.
  • Don Lakusta and Vivian Kham, volunteers at John D. Bracco Junior High School for the past 2 years: Don coordinates the breakfast program. He does the food pickups and all the planning. He is supportive and hard-working. Vivian is a young teacher who has jumped right in at an organizational level. Her commitment, organization and support are amazing!
  • Cheryle Langley, volunteer at Holy Cross Catholic Elementary/Junior High School for the last 5 years: Cheryle makes a difference in the lives of our children every day. She goes above and beyond, knowing the importance of a good nutritional start to the day.
  • Jessica Lovel, volunteer at Chief Justice Milvain School for the past year: Jessica goes above and beyond every day to support the students. She is organized and always prepared to greet students in the morning. It is her hard work that has made the program such a success.
  • Caroline Michaud, volunteer at De la Source School for the past 4 years: Caroline is generous and kind-hearted. She always keeps in mind what is best for the kids. We cannot express how much she has helped our students.
  • Leona Miko, volunteer at St. Damien School for the past 3 years: Leona has always supported our students with a big heart. She encourages our students to be their best and provides nutrition with a smile.
  • Alaina Nicolet, young volunteer at Children of St. Martha School for the past 2 years: Alaina meets and greets everyone. She notices those who need an extra connection in the morning and is happy to start them off with a smile, friendly words, and a choice of a hot or cold breakfast.
  • Jody Poitras, volunteer at Webster Niblock School for the past year: Jody was the reason our school could start the breakfast program. She helped with everything. The students love seeing her each day when they come down to the kitchen for breakfast.
  • Anna Kelly Redcrow, young volunteer at Light of Christ School for the past 3 years: Anna comes every morning with a smile on her face and a positive attitude. She is a great mentor for the new volunteers. Her patience and kindness always shine through.
  • Katarina Rivard, volunteer at St. Peter Elementary School for the past year: Katarina has been an amazing organizer of our breakfast program. She dedicates her time and energy to it every day. She is our one and only Breakfast Champion, serving over 80 students each day.
  • Tara Roen, volunteer at Dr. Gladys McKelvie Egbert School for the past 5 years: Tara is committed to being at school by 7 a.m. every morning to support the program. She orders the food based on everyone’s needs and favourites, organizes everything and welcomes the students.
  • Andrea Savino, volunteer at St. Monica School for the past 4 years: We strongly believe that our breakfast program would not be what it is without Andrea. She is dedicated and committed to providing healthy meals to start the day for all our students.
  • Evelyn Schultz, volunteer at Lauderdale School for the past 6 years: Evelyn truly cares about the students and staff at Lauderdale School. She uses the breakfast program to connect with students of all grades. They love going to the breakfast program that she has created.
  • Treina Selthun, volunteer at Beacon Heights School for the past 20 years: Treina is the heart of our school and the heart of the breakfast program. She and her husband spend hours of their own time sourcing food, getting donations and prepping materials for our program.
  • Amina Serroukh, volunteer at St. Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Elementary School for the past year: Amina has been running our breakfast program this year and is a phenomenal employee and co-worker. Our students call her “Auntie” because she has such a great relationship with them.
  • Marilyn Sharp, volunteer at Clive School for the past 8 years: Marilyn faithfully comes to our school once a week, but she does not come empty-handed. She always brings us a new recipe for the kids to try. She also volunteers in the classrooms to help students who are struggling with reading.
  • Sandra Sims, volunteer at Pioneer Middle School for more than 5 years: Sandra does a lot of the shopping on her own time and comes in early every day to set things up.
  • Julie Talbot and Monica Andrew, volunteers at Holy Trinity Catholic School for the past 2 and 8 years: Julie always puts students’ needs first. She supports the breakfast program in many aspects. Monica advocates for students to have a healthy start to their day. Through her work, the program continues to be a success each year. We are lucky to have them.
  • Dawn Tees, volunteer at Clive School for the past 8 years: Dawn greets 100-plus kids every day with breakfast and a huge smile. It’s a great way for students to start each day at our school!
  • Sheldon Thompson, volunteer at Vegreville Composite High School for the past 7 years: Sheldon has been extremely dedicated to the success of this program and values the contribution it makes in the daily routine of our students.
  • Stasia Uhlmann, volunteer at West Central High School since the program started: Stasia is a kind and compassionate person who knows the importance of feeding our kids. We live about an hour away from some of the larger stores, yet Stasia routinely takes time from her weekends to make sure the program is always supplied.
  • Sharmin Unwin, volunteer at St. Matthew Catholic School for the past 5 years: Sharmin has given her time to make our program a success! She contributes to the program in all aspects: she organizes the groceries, plans the menus and coordinates the volunteers to get food to our students!
  • Mandy Weiss, volunteer at Medicine Hat Public School Division for the past few years: Mandy is at the centre of the breakfast program, engaging with the students and being that welcoming, friendly face they get to see when they arrive. Not only is Mandy providing their basic need of food, but she is also supporting their emotional well-being.
  • Brad White, volunteer at Kikino School for the past 3 years: Brad is our school admin assistant. He does a lot for the breakfast program and gives us Indigenous connections to food, with recipes and the use of the Cree language.

 

British Colombia
  • Sally Anderson, volunteer at John Howitt Elementary School for the past 5 years: Without Sally’s hard work and support, we would not have a breakfast program at our school. Her coordination and support in getting us items to feed students have been very helpful.
  • Sabine Cooperman, volunteer at Clearwater Secondary School for the past 2 years: Sabine has been supportive of the breakfast program for years, but since the completion of the renovations to our cafe, partly funded by Breakfast Club of Canada, she has been making a deluxe breakfast once a week.
  • Sandra Dube, volunteer at Skeena Middle School for a few years: Sandra has been working at the school as long as I can remember. Years ago, when I was a classroom teacher, she would feed so many children each morning. I am blown away by the work she does.
  • Sherry Hamilton and Joanie Tronson, volunteers at Sensisyusten House of Learning since its beginning: Sherry is an enthusiastic champion of all things related to ensuring that kids have food to eat. She is tireless. Joanie goes out of her way to prepare the very best meals for our students each and every day.
  • Dawn Hippisley, volunteer at Kitwanga Elementary School for more than 15 years: Dawn is a tireless volunteer. She arrives at school 45 minutes before she begins her position to serve children every single morning. She cooks, she cleans, and she takes her tending to our students’ needs to heart. Our program would not have the heart and soul that it currently does without her.
  • Rylei Hunter, volunteer at A.D. Rundle Middle School for the past 4 years: Rylei never misses a morning. She organizes all our food sharing for students. She does everything she can to make sure they are fed and supported.
  • Naomi Lajeunesse, volunteer at Bayview Elementary School for the past year: Naomi is an education assistant who comes with baking and cooking experience. When she is not preparing “the best muffins ever” (said by a Grade 1 student), she is supporting vulnerable learners in our school.
  • Julie McCutcheon, volunteer at John Allison Elementary School for the past 2 years: Julie runs the breakfast program in the spirit that makes it so much more than food. She greets students with warmth and interest, provides and remembers their preferred breakfast choices, and checks in with them as to how they are doing.
  • Maria Paul, volunteer at Sxoxomic Community School for the past 4 years: Maria has a caring and motherly way about her. She treats the students as if they were her own children, with kindness and compassion.
  • October Pinyon, volunteer at LNIB School for the past 2 years: October enjoys helping in the kitchen twice a week. She is very friendly and always positive.
  • Wendy Prebble, volunteer at Houston Secondary School for the past 4 years: Wendy is a Breakfast Champion because she gives so much more than breakfast to our students. She is a caring adult for so many of our vulnerable kids. Her role is about much more than nutrition and quality choices.
  • Marina Rubinato, volunteer at Hazelton Secondary School since the beginning: Marina is the main coordinator of our breakfast program. She goes above and beyond with everything she does. She cares a great deal for students’ well-being and works very hard to meet not just their nutritional needs, but their emotional needs as well.
  • Stirring Church, supporters of Highland Park Elementary School: They donated $5,000. They do the shopping, based on our list, and drop the items off at the school.
  • Vicki Walker, volunteer at Shoreline Community Middle School for more than 10 years: Vicki has worked tirelessly to facilitate both a breakfast program and a hot lunch program for all students who require food. This amounts to 40 to 50 meals each day.

 

Manitoba
  • Sylvie Dufour, volunteer at McIsaac School for the past 5 years: Sylvie worked very hard to set up a committee to implement the breakfast program in the school. She still oversees the program and keeps it running smoothly.
  • Karen Lambert, volunteer at Archwood School for the past few months: Karen makes sure all students get breakfast every morning and is devoted to making their morning brighter and happier.
  • Kari Payne and Charlene Cox, volunteers at Happy Thought School for the past 2 years: Kari and Charlene are educational assistants at our school. They are constantly volunteering their time before school to help cook breakfast or to get the breakfast bins ready. Our program would not run as effectively as it does without their support.

 

New Brunswick
  • Erin Mabie, volunteer at Birchmount School for the past year: Erin is very organized, kind and caring. She creates lists, organizes the meals, purchases food, prepares it and helps others in the program. We are very thankful for her!
  • Heather Milner, volunteer at Dorchester School for many years: Heather is an educational assistant at our school. She comes in early to get breakfast ready and delivers trays to classrooms. She is never frazzled, goes with the flow and is very accommodating.

 

Northwest Territories
  • Kathleen Mcleod, volunteer at Echo Dene School since its beginning: Kathleen has never missed a hot breakfast for our students, knowing how important it is to have something to eat before starting the day.

 

Ontario
  • Darlene Pawis, volunteer at Kinomaugewgamik Elementary School, for so many years: Darlene goes above and beyond when it comes to our breakfast program. In addition to serving on our staff for the past 20 years, she is the program’s part-time nutrition coordinator.

 

Quebec
  • Avis Anez, volunteer at New Carlisle High School for the past 3 years: Avis works tirelessly every day to make sure that our students start the day off with a nutritious breakfast. She comes in early to prepare breakfast before her regular workday begins.
  • Dan Aucoin, volunteer at Mansonville Elementary School for the past 10 years: Dan is the backbone of our breakfast program. He works hard for it. This program simply could not exist without him.
  • Geneviève Bélanger, volunteer at Flemming Elementary School for the past 3 years: Geneviève is the sole volunteer for the breakfast program and goes above and beyond with preparation and organization of breakfast goods. There is not a big enough THANK-YOU for everything she does!
  • Sylvie Corbeil, volunteer at Sautjuit School for the past 3 years: Sylvie oversees the breakfast program. She organizes the meals, recruits people, makes deliveries, manages the inventory and even sometimes goes to pick up the food at the airport. We couldn’t do it without her.
  • Mark Dempster, volunteer at Badabin Eeyou School for the past year: Mark plans the orders, coordinates food deliveries and communicates with the staff. He does it all!
  • Carolyn Desmond, volunteer at Beurling Academy for the past 3 years: Carolyn makes sure that each student can have a breakfast, and she does it with a smile and a “good morning.” Even if a student is late and misses the breakfast, she will take the time and make sure they get something to eat before going to class.
  • Myriam Farley, volunteer at LINKS High School for a few years: Myriam’s dedication and commitment to our students is exemplary. She is active in all the aspects of the breakfast program. It has changed the lives of our students, and this wouldn’t be possible without her hard work.
  • Mary Franklin, volunteer at Golden Valley School for more than 5 years: Mary saw a need at our school and got the breakfast program started. She ensures that the food is delivered and that each child gets breakfast. When we have children who are not part of the program but are hungry, she makes sure that they are fed.
  • Evelyn Fuller and Anthony Hester, volunteers at Luke Mettaweskum School for the past 4 years and past year: Evelyn takes on all the organizing of the breakfast program. It wouldn’t run without her! Anthony just started working for the school this year. Without even being asked, he began helping out with the program every day, although he is only scheduled to work three out of five days. This kind gesture has helped keep our breakfast program running.
  • Marie-Hélène Gagnon, volunteer at Options High School for the past 2 years: Marie-Hélène goes above and beyond to make the breakfast program a huge success. She always has a smile on her face as she makes sure that our students are well fed. Her warmth and passion radiate to everyone in our school community.
  • Kristy Girvan, volunteer at Farnham Elementary School for the past few years: Kristy shows up every morning at 6:15 a.m. with her three children and gets busy in the kitchen preparing all the breakfast trays. She is our champion!
  • Paul Karpontinis, volunteer at Lester B. Pearson High School for the past 6 years: Paul is committed to giving all the students the best-quality breakfast and making sure they get what they need to have a successful day.
  • Darrell Kean, volunteer at Greater Gatineau Elementary School for more than 5 years: Darrell arrives early at work and volunteers for the breakfast program. He organizes all the food that we receive and prepares it for our students. We are very lucky to have him.
  • Lisa Lepore, volunteer at Joliette Elementary School for the past 5 years: Lisa has been a tireless parent volunteer for many years. She became part of our staff this year but has remained steadfastly committed to the program, arriving early and staying late to ensure that our team has everything they need.
  • Natasha Lo Basso, volunteer at Pierrefonds Community High School for the past 5 years: Natasha coordinates the entire breakfast program. She organizes the student volunteers and prepares the breakfasts for our school. She is a true champion of our breakfast program!
  • Wahienhawi McGregor, volunteer at Karonhianónhnha Tsi Ionterihwaienstáhkhwa School for the past 2 years: Wahienhawi is our breakfast program coordinator. Each morning, she delivers breakfast to each individual class, where she can also connect with the students, wish them a good day and encourage everyone to make good choices. She is our Breakfast Champion!
  • Anastasia Mulcare, volunteer at Carlyle Elementary School for the past 3 years: Anastasia is well organized, always thinks of the students and is kind, generous and engaged in the breakfast program.
  • Sue Purcell and Sheila Morrison, volunteers at Verdun Elementary School for the past 5 years: Sue has always shown flexibility and great problem-solving skills. Her smile, good humour and willingness to always go the extra mile make her an exceptional volunteer. Sheila is here every day, preparing a delicious breakfast for  the children. She loves to chat with the students and staff and makes everyone feel special and loved.
  • Maria Sansalone, volunteer at Gerald McShane Elementary School for the past 5 years: Maria is there EVERY morning to make sure the bins are distributed and picked up afterward, ready to go for the next morning.
  • Melissa Smithman, volunteer at Voyageur Memorial High School for the past 2 years: Melissa was one of the first people to propose the idea of providing breakfast in our school. She is dedicated to the success and well-being of our students and proves it through her actions.
  • Sandra Tartamella and Dolores DeMichele, volunteers at Edward Murphy Elementary School for the past 5 years: Sandra is a devoted and reliable person who ensures everyone’s well-being. She is always available and willing to support our students. Dolores is always ready to help! She arrives early every morning with a smile on her face. The program would not run smoothly without her.
  • Alexandra Urban-Desnoyers, volunteer at Beurling Academy for the past year: Alexandra’s care and attention to making sure our students are set up for a successful day are amazing. She does it all with a smile and a “good morning.” She is our main link to the organization and makes sure everything runs smoothly.
  • Andy Wheeler, volunteer at Waterloo Elementary School for a few years: Andy works the midnight shift and comes in after to make sure our students are fed every single day. He spends his weekends cooking and is always there making sure every student has had their fill. We could not do this without him.

 

Saskatchewan
  • Theresa Burkholder, volunteer at Seven Stones Community School for many years: Our students appreciate Theresa and thank her every day for all the wonderful work she does for our breakfast program. They truly enjoy spending time with her and digging into the delicious breakfast that she has prepared.
  • Michelle Crawford, volunteer at Vincent Massey Public School for the past 3 years: Michelle ran a small business creating meals. I approached her to ask if she would be interested in baking for our breakfast program. She was more than willing to take on this task. Her weekly addition has really added a homemade touch.
  • Jean Mager and Rachelle Whitrow, volunteers at Mount Royal Collegiate for the past 5 years: Jean encourages students to participate in the making of the food and gets their ideas on how to make items tastier. Rachelle has an amazing personality. Her smile and friendly demeanour are what makes our students feel so comfortable and accepted at the breakfast program.
  • Alisa Meyer, volunteer at Maverick School for many years: Alisa is efficient, positive and caring. Students know that, when breakfast comes around, they are guaranteed great nutrition and a friendly morning greeting!
  • Shari Pfneisl, volunteer at Albert Community School for the past 2 years: Shari has worked incredibly hard to develop a nutrition program where every child is given breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack. It is one of the reasons many of our students come to school each day.
  • Bonnie Wersta, volunteer at Coronation Park Community School for the past 4 years: Bonnie has the biggest heart. She plans each day’s breakfast with love and care. She comes up with such creative and exciting options that are nutritious and taste fabulous!
Children's hands

 

Discover the Pigiurvik Elementary School program, located in the city of Salluit. This breakfast program is proof that good organization and the involvement of everyone can make a difference!

Mary Kennard, teacher at Pigiurvik Primary School

 

What is the one thing people need to know about your program?

The program is needed and appreciated in the community. Through Breakfast Club of Canada, food can be provided to everyone, with enough variety to please all, so everyone is welcome to say they would like to have cereal, milk, toast, fruit, or ask for more.

 

What are you most proud of in your program?

I’m proud that the teachers and administration recognize the importance of the club to the students in the school. They understand a student who has a full stomach is engaged and ready to learn.

I’m also proud that not only the teachers but the whole school community signed up to be a part of the breakfast program. When a large order arrives, everyone pitches in to help, from unloading the deliveries, sorting, and shelving the foods, to store the empty boxes!

 

What food could your breakfast program not go without?

It seems to be those Oatbox blueberry breakfast bars. The kids love them! They are the first thing we run out of!

 

If you could invite someone famous to breakfast at your school, who would it be and why?

I would invite our Governor General, Mary Simon. The children, however, might like to invite a band. Maybe The Jerry Cans!

 

Special breakfasts: What do kids look forward to?

We used to make pancakes. Unfortunately, our special breakfasts were pre-COVID-19, and sadly we haven’t been able to have one in a long time. Some students would measure and mix the ingredients, while others would cook the pancakes. Still others would count the number of people and put forks and plates on the table. Then we ate — pancakes, milk to drink, and fruit! Everyone helped clean up, and wash and dry the dishes. It was great fun for teachers and students — loud and a little chaotic — but still enjoyable. Occasionally, two classes would cook together, for twice the fun!

 

Special thanks to Mary Kennard, teacher at Pigiurvik Primary School in Salluit, in northern Quebec.

group photo - breakfast program volunteers

 

This past October, our Club coordinators visited one of our recently opened programs for the first time. Annieville Elementary School in Delta, BC — the traditional territory of the Tsawwassen and Musqueam First Nations — started its program with Breakfast Club of Canada in fall of 2020.

 

Fast forward to a year later, and the program is now a well-oiled machine, involving school staff and local businesses to offer some morning cheer every school day.

Volunteer serving breakfast

Each morning, youth worker Sara Glennon and education assistant Christine Mitzel pack individual breakfasts in reusable bento boxes, purchased last year with the Club’s equipment grant. Breakfasts are planned out in advance each week by Sara, who orders groceries online and picks them up every Monday.

 

The program makes sure no students are left out, including those requiring a gluten- or gelatin-free meal. Food is prepared in a separate area and served in different coloured boxes and serving trays to ensure there is no cross-contamination. Currently, breakfasts are delivered to classrooms, with teachers communicating the number of meals needed to make planning a breeze and ensure there is minimal waste.

Volunteer serving breakfast

Collaboration is essential, according to principal Jann Kwasnicki, whose goal is to see this program run independently, regardless of who may be leading the school administration in the future. Once it is safe to do so, the team plans to use the multi-purpose room attached to the kitchen as the breakfast room, where they are hoping to make the atmosphere homelike and comfortable for students to enjoy a warm meal together, socialize and start their day off right.

 

This school year, Annieville Elementary has enlisted the support of the local Walmart, which has generously donated coolers to keep food cold before serving and has raised funds for the school. The Rotary Club of Tsawwassen also supports Annieville Elementary with their Starfish Backpack program, and local firefighters chip in with monthly snack food donations.

 

Thanks to the collective efforts of school staff and the local community, the students of Annieville Elementary can enjoy a nutritious and delicious breakfast each day.

lindsey, Justin and Geneviève in breakfast programs

 

Recently, two breakfast programs welcomed special visitors. At Maillard Middle School in Coquitlam, BC, professional athletes and BCC ambassadors Lindsey Butterworth and Justin Kent served up breakfast to students. In Montreal, QC, chef and entrepreneur Geneviève Everell had the chance to visit a new program at Evangeline School.

 

Be sure to read our blog article to discover what happened and see the videos of their visits!

 

Maillard Middle School

Maillard Middle School has been a part of Breakfast Club of Canada since 2013, and youth worker Lisa Haines has been running the program for the last five years.

 

Like other coordinators, Lisa has had to adjust her service during the pandemic, changing it from a drop-in, sit-down breakfast in the cafeteria to a grab & go–style program. The excellent quality of her breakfasts hasn’t changed, however. Her students’ favourites are the fresh vegetable sandwich, filled with hummus, spinach, cucumbers, bell peppers and cheese, and the banana oat pancakes. Her secret is soaking the oats in milk overnight for a heartier texture, and the bananas are sweet enough that syrup is not needed at all. If there are any leftovers, students are welcome to grab a bag for a snack or for lunch.

AmbassadorsServingBreakfast

Lindsey and Justin had a great time visiting Maillard Middle School and connecting with some of the breakfast program’s enthusiastic regulars.

 

As ambassadors, Lindsey and Justin want to contribute to fundraising and promoting BCC’s values to provide youth with healthy nutritional opportunities and education.

 

“I have a passion for health promotion and a keen interest in advocating healthy behaviour through proper nutrition in youth. Learning about food security in my undergraduate degree and volunteering with the breakfast program at my local community centre really instilled the importance of access to a healthy breakfast in me. I want to continue to promote and increase accessibility to breakfast programs across the country with Breakfast Club of Canada.” Lindsey Butterworth

 

“I believe in the importance of equal opportunity for youth to have access to proper nutrition. Growing up in Surrey, British Columbia, an inner-city school system, I witnessed the positive impact of a breakfast program. I hope I can make a difference so that youth are properly fuelled to achieve their goals. No one should chase their dreams on an empty stomach.” Justin Kent

 

Watch this video to find out their reason for teaming up with us and why they believe in school breakfast programs.


Évangeline School

Located in the north end of Montreal, Évangeline School is home to over 800 senior high school students from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. In addition to mainstream classes, the school also offers specialized and vocational preparation programs for students with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

 

Starting in fall 2021, Samia Abbassa, a school staff member and the breakfast program site coordinator, has been there every morning to greet students from the regular program who begin to pour in at 7:30 a.m. She sets up in the cafeteria and serves breakfast to anyone who wants it. While she is catering to them, she is also preparing bins for the students in the ASD classes, who prefer to have breakfast in their own classroom, where any sensory issues are easier to cope with.

 

Every morning, a student from each of the ASD classes is tasked with picking up the breakfast food bin and later returning any leftovers to Samia, along with the reusable utensils to be washed. This kind of involvement in the breakfast program can represent a big step in developing students’ sense of responsibility. The benefits of the breakfast program are therefore twofold: it is an excellent source of nutrition and a solution for working through unique challenges.

Geneviève Everell in a breakfast program

BCC ambassador Geneviève Everell recently went to visit students at Évangeline School, where she rolled up her sleeves to serve up a delicious breakfast to the teens.

 

Entrepreneur, author, franchisor, speaker and former BCC enrollee Geneviève Everell is the wiz behind Sushi à la maison. Hers is a truly remarkable story. The breakfast program she attended at elementary school helped mitigate the food insecurity she experienced at home.

 

“Your organization made such a huge difference in my life. I never thought one day I’d be able to say THANK YOU!” Geneviève Everell 

 

Watch the video here (in French only).

 

At Ste-Thérèse School, located in St-Honoré-de-Shenley (Qc), a teacher had the idea of involving the students of his grade six class in the breakfast club and now they are the ones who manage the entire program for their school! Here is a discussion with the students and Frédéric Leclerc, a teacher who dared and succeeded!

 

What made you step in and take over the coordination of the breakfast program at your school?

Students: Breakfast Club of Canada has been an important part of our school for a long time. We have always had volunteers to make the meals every morning, and some years we had a bunch of people signing up. It’s a true need in our school community. Lots of kids don’t eat breakfast or don’t get the chance to start their day off with something healthy. There are also plenty of students who’d come to school without anything to snack on, and they’d ask for something because they were hungry. With COVID and all the changes it has brought, we barely had anybody volunteering this year. And we didn’t want to take the risk of losing the breakfast program. Something had to be done, and our teacher had the crazy idea that maybe we could take over!

 

What gave you the idea to get the students involved?

Frédéric: I’m a teacher who tries to do things a little differently. I like it when students are really involved in their own learning. I want things to be hands-on and inspired by day-to-day realities, and I want them to make connections with everything they learn. My teaching is based on the deep learning method. We use things that happen in real life to get students engaged in their learning. These are opportunities for them to realize how important some things are. We work on them in the classroom and then turn them into a project. So there was an opportunity there to put the students in charge of the breakfast program, and quite frankly it has been a huge success.

Group photo

What made you agree to get involved?

Students: We wanted to do something good for the school without receiving anything in return. Helping make sure our friends and other students get breakfast in the morning, can try new foods, eat healthy and have access to good snacks… We can a learn a lot from this, and what we learn will stay with us all our lives.

 

What kind of responsibilities do you have?

Students: With the Club, we’ve learned a bunch of new things. We’ve learned how to work together, even with people we weren’t necessarily used to working with. We’ve learned to do a lot more on our own. This project pushes us to try new things and, if worse comes to worst, make mistakes! We’ve also gotten better at public speaking because we have to explain what’s on the menu, how the Club works, announce new things and other stuff every day. The teachers have been surprised by what we’ve accomplished. They didn’t think we could handle it all. Some people go in early to wash the fruit and get the food out we need. They take things out of the freezer for the next day. They also sanitize the work stations, check the fridge temperatures and make sure everything is OK. We have two-student teams assigned to each classroom. We take the food and place it in the bin, and then we hand it out in the classroom. We go back around 9 a.m. and pick up whatever’s left and put it back in the fridge, in the box or in the cupboard. Then we rinse out whatever’s recyclable, and we take it to the recycling bins outside.

We take inventory once a month and fill out an order form for whatever we need and send it to the Club’s coordinator. We also have to phone in our milk order, and when it gets here students make sure we rotate what we have so nothing gets wasted. It’s the same for our big food orders. One team unpacks everything while another checks to make sure all the items are there. Then another team checks the expiry dates and rotates everything. We have to be very careful and follow all the food safety rules. Frédéric showed us how to wash our hands the right way and how they do it in restaurants. Plus, we have a budget to follow, and we have to calculate the taxes and look for sales when we buy groceries. We handle all the money and make sure that the cashier gives us the right change. With all this to take care of, we’ve had to find solutions and ways to make it work. We’ve learned how to manage it and this’ll be totally important later on, in math class and in our everyday life when we’re planning a meal for our friends or a big party or something.

Student doing the dishes

How have the students reacted? Were they into the whole idea from the beginning?

Frédéric: They’ve never been more motivated, and I can use this in the classroom too. If you want to be involved in the breakfast program, you have to do whatever’s expected of you in class. It works out really well. The kids love doing it, and even when I give them other duties, they take them and ask for more! I’m also starting to look at them in a whole new light. Some kids who struggle academically really shine in this project.

 

How have you had a positive impact on your school’s breakfast program?

Students: The program is doing really well, and students are eating a healthy breakfast every morning, and that’s because of us. They all get a snack and they love that. We are introducing them to new foods and we’re giving without expecting to get anything back. We’re helping out and enjoying our own breakfast at school too. We have even had to start placing bigger orders, because the kids at school are eating it all up every morning. The bins come back empty. It’s so cool!

Student serving breakfast

What kind of advice would you give to teachers or program leads to encourage them to get students involved in their breakfast programs?

Frédéric: You just have to jump in with both feet. Don’t overthink it. Once you’re into it, you’ll be able to sidestep the obstacles you run into along the way. You can’t plan for every problem, but the important thing is to stay flexible. For example, if the extra waste the program generates overloads your dumpster, you might want to step up your recycling efforts. You have to be prepared to invest lots of time at the start. A month into it, I can now let them do more on their own. They make mistakes, and that’s only natural. They’re kids, and that’s what kids do. But they learn, and that’s the beauty of it. You also have to be prepared to push a little. Making a change, doing something different, that always shakes things up a little. I’m doing this for the kids, so they can learn and want to come to school, for it to be meaningful to them. Sometimes you can’t let a few negative comments or criticisms stop you.

You have to be bold and think big! And why not?

Most people think of school breakfast programs as a way of making sure students get the nutrition they need to fuel their academic performance.

But what they don’t necessarily consider is all the social perks these programs have for their young members.


In connection with International Friendship Day, we talked to Linzi, who was a breakfast program enrollee when she was younger. She used to eat breakfast at school several times a week, but not because of food insecurity. It was a way for her to make friends and learn more about the culture of her adopted home of Quebec.

Her family came here from China when she was six years old. They moved to the Montreal suburb of LaSalle when she was eight. That’s when she first heard about Breakfast Club of Canada. With both her parents working and two other siblings at home, mornings in her household tended to be hectic. Her family made the decision to sign her up for the breakfast program so she could enjoy a calmer start to the day and have the time to eat a full, wholesome breakfast before the first bell rang.

Linzi and her younger brother

It was there, over breakfast, that Linzi realized that overcoming linguistic barriers and engaging in a conversation with her fellow students wasn’t as difficult as it first seemed.

“With all the food there was to choose from, it created an environment where, even if I didn’t really know very many kids, I could say things like, ‘Oh, is that what you picked?’, ‘And you took that?’ ‘Is that good?’ or ‘I like this one the best.’ It gave us something in common we could talk about.”

One of the benefits of the breakfast program for Linzi was all the friendships that emerged from it, with students at all grade levels.

“I made tons of friends through Breakfast Club of Canada because it had nothing to do with school as such. But I would see some of my classmates there, too. After you have breakfast, you have the energy you need to begin your day, but it also means you feel less rushed.”

Linzi and the other kids would chat over breakfast, regardless of their differing ages or grade levels. They all looked out for one another. The older kids would help the younger ones, for example, by going to get them a utensil they didn’t have. And the more experienced breakfast program enrollees were quick to show the newbies the ropes, she explained.

Linzi and hey younger brother

She has lots of great memories of her time with Breakfast Club of Canada. One that stands out in her mind is an encounter she had with an older student.

“I remember I was finishing up something I really liked, but I was too shy to get up and get seconds. Breakfast was almost over, and the volunteers were starting to clean up. That’s when one of the older kids who hadn’t eaten his said to me, ‘You can have mine if you want.’”

Linzi also has fond recollections of her first school breakfast. She felt a little lost, but she remembers the volunteers who walked her in and made her feel instantly at home.

“They were so nice. They smiled, took the time to talk to me, and said, ‘Hi, how are you today?’ to every child who came in and paid close attention to them. I felt seen. I felt like I mattered. When you show up with a tray and you don’t know a soul, it’s a little scary. It really helped me come out of my shell. It’s this type of experience that definitely shaped my sense of belonging with the Quebec community.”

Linzi and Gallea


Today, Linzi is the co-founder and director of operations at the Gallea art gallery, Canada’s largest online art gallery and exhibition venue. Not only does she work in the operations division, she is also an artist herself. It was important to her to make sure other children can have the same positive experience she did when she was younger. Fun fact, Gallea is also one of the Club’s newest partners.

Breakfast programs influence children’s lives in countless ways. You can learn more about BCC’s impact.

Ginger Moyah, the principal at Grassy Plains School, shares how they have used funding to purchase five grow towers.

Grow towers rely on what is called a hydroponic system that promotes plant growth without soil. It instead uses motorized pumps, water and a nutrient solution to grow herbs, fruits and other types of plants. Each system has numerous units and slots on the sides of the system, where each plant is stored. Check out this interview with Ginger to learn more about how these grow towers supplement their breakfast program:

 

What were the beginnings of the grow towers?

So, we’re still kind of getting our feet under us with it. We ended up getting some funding through our local reserves, as well as our AVID coordinator, and Breakfast Club of Canada gave additional funds. We were able to purchase five grow towers, so that would be one for every one of our classrooms, and right now we’re just trying to figure them all out. One classroom sadly lost their crop to some bugs that came on though.

 

What kind of crops are the kids growing?

We’ve basically just started with the seeds that came with the kit. There is lettuce, arugula, kale, Swiss chard and basil, mostly greens so we can make salads and stuff with the kids. And, oh my goodness, the kids love it.

 

What has the feedback from the students been?

When they go to the kindergarten class, it doesn’t matter when or why there’s one little kindergarten girl who always shouts “MRS. MOYAH, COME LOOK AT THE BABIES!” She brings me over to see how big they’ve grown because they actually grow quite a bit faster than a regular garden. They have more light and nutrients so that’s pretty cool to watch. And all the kids are excited and keep an eye on everything.

 

And now you will be able to grow all year, right, because they’re indoors?

Exactly, which is huge for us too, because we live in quite a cold climate up here. Our growing time is the end of May until the end of August, basically. So much different than our traditional gardens. And for several years, we’ve been trying to garden with a community garden that’s right off our school property. But oftentimes, by the time we get back in September, because it is a community garden, people have already harvested a lot of the crops so the kids go through so much work and then they don’t get to see the rewards. The grow towers have been an amazing alternative to that.

 

How did you come up with the idea?

It was actually inspired from another principal in our district who started it at their school in town. And it was something that I’ve always wanted to do in my house. Growing and gardening has always been something that the school has tried to do but hasn’t had much success with, so we’re hoping this will be something that could be more sustainable during their school months because we don’t have our kids when the plants are actually growing in the ground outside. They don’t get to really see the full growth cycle of the vegetables and plants.

 

We’re you impacted this year by the changes?

Well, we’re just getting going; our plans are to not only supplement our hot lunch program because it would mostly be supplementing it with kale and breakfast smoothies. So, it will most likely benefit the lunch program. If we get production going enough, then we can send some stuff in healthy food boxes to some of our community members or our families in need. We’re hoping that we can have a great impact on our community.

Young Volunteers at BCC

Chelsea Hausler, the program coordinator at Georges P. Vanier School, has set up a legacy hours program where students can volunteer with the school breakfast program to help plan and serve breakfast. As part of the school’s graduation requirements, each student is required to volunteer 25 hours toward an initiative that supports the community. In this interview, Chelsea talks about the impact and value of this new program.

 

At the school, my role is a wellness coach, so I do a couple different things. I promote mental health, physical health, nutrition and community engagement — those are our four pillars. Doing the breakfast program comes under our nutrition mandate and is now a big part of my role.

 

What are legacy hours and how can they be applied? How did you come up with the idea of breakfast program volunteering for legacy hours?

At Georges P. Vanier, legacy hours are a non-negotiable 25 hours from every student before they graduate from high school. There are a variety of ways for them to fulfill this requirement, but the idea is to come up with a project or idea in the community. Some kids have cut grass, for example, or, pre-COVID, helped seniors in the community. Others have raised funds for a cause. It’s something that allows kids to explore what they’re passionate about and give back to the community. So we thought that some kids might be interested in volunteering with the breakfast program. And now we have seven of them who are with me every morning.

 

What has the impact been for the kids and the school? Have the student volunteers given you any direct feedback?

Five of them have said that they want to do it next year, which was really exciting. They said they enjoy it and the time goes by fast, which makes for an easy start to their morning. In terms of the general school feedback, it’s been very good. At first, kids would be hesitant, saying, “Am I allowed to take more than one thing?” Our answer was always the same: “It’s fine. That’s what we’re here for.” It probably took about five days for kids to take a little bit of everything. Right now, we probably have about 90% accessing the food. We have a lot of kids in our school who feel they may not be entitled to it because they have food at home, but because our rural catchment area is so big and the bus leaves so early, they often choose not to eat breakfast before they leave. They roll out of bed, put on their clothes and get on the bus. There are also a fair number of kids who don’t have access to fresh food at home. So now that we have fresh food and fruit available, they’re more likely to fill up on those!

 

What advice would you give other schools trying to streamline student volunteers into their breakfast program?

Encourage them by saying it’s a good place to help the community and show them how all these little pieces come together and have a big result. Some people may think, “But it’s only seven kids.” But without these seven kids, we couldn’t offer what we do. They’re instrumental to our success. And there are some kids who aren’t in the same peer group but are building relationships with one another. In the hallways before class, they now have that ease of communication.

The kids make the breakfast program fun, and it’s nice from a facilitator’s perspective to see them develop their leadership skills. You figure out the dynamics pretty quickly. You think, “Oh, OK, these two will delegate and lead and the other kids will listen.” So it fosters more than food prep education and budgeting, which is great to see.

With the latest numbers pointing to an 80% upsurge in food insecurity in Canada since the onset of the pandemic, breakfast programs supported by individual donors, corporate partners and governments are more important than ever. We are very fortunate to be able to count on a strong, engaged network of donors who believe in investing in children’s success.

What starts for some as a personal investment of their time and energy can sometimes turn into a longer-term commitment. The Club recently heard from Chantal Sawyer, who taught special education at Saint-Joseph School in Saint-Jérôme, Québec, for 12 years. She witnessed first-hand the impact breakfast programs have on students’ academic performance and overall well-being. Seeing every day what food insecurity does to a child and knowing that the needs are, sadly, greater than ever, she felt the need to double-down on her commitment to the Club’s programs to make sure they will always be there, beyond her lifetime, to help young people. She contacted the Club in 2019 to let us know she had provided for us in her will.

“I made a bequest to the Club because it’s vital children get something to eat before they start their school day. Without it, all they can think about is how hungry they are. That means they’re not ready to learn. Nobody would be.

I remember that the volunteers at that school stayed around longer for students who didn’t have time to eat breakfast at home. We were lucky to have the same volunteers year after year, which created a real sense of stability. I was touched by how dedicated they were.

No matter the circumstances —whatever time it was, whether it was in the middle of a blizzard or an ice storm, even if it made them a half-hour late — I always made sure my kids had eaten. And I don’t want that to ever, ever, ever, ever stop. It should never come to an end. Even now, I have a small fridge in my classroom because the school I work at doesn’t have a breakfast program,” she told us.

 

A bequest is an easy, convenient and meaningful way for anyone to give to a favourite charity, although it is still largely unknown. There are several options available: you can leave a specific amount or a small percentage of your estate, which will have no impact on your financial situation during your lifetime. What’s more, a receipt will be issued to your estate when the time comes, which will reduce the amount of tax owing. The resulting benefits will help ensure your heirs don’t lose out.

If you’d like to learn more about planned giving or, if like Ms. Sawyer, you have already included a provision for the Club in your will, contact us at planned.giving@breakfastclubcanada.org so we can thank you and acknowledge your generosity.

 

Legal notice

We would be happy to assist you in your philanthropic planning but we are not qualified to provide any financial or legal advice. Please talk to a professional who is familiar with your financial circumstances.

This past year has been an exceptionally challenging one for many people. Although it has seen new opportunities appear for some, it has been fraught with obstacles for others. And the upcoming holiday season will be no less difficult for families who are already struggling to make ends meet. The pandemic has exacerbated household poverty to the point that one out of three Canadian children lives in a situation of food insecurity. Which is why a donation to Breakfast Club of Canada can make a real difference — now more than ever. Give children the gift of a nutritious morning meal in an environment that puts a smile on their face, boosts their self-confidence and provides them with the energy they need to achieve their potential all day long.

“By giving to Breakfast Club of Canada, you’ll be part of one of the best gift exchanges going this season. Not only will your donation help keep nearly 2,000 breakfast programs running across the country, but it will also have a positive impact on you,” as stated by Marie-Pier Lemyre, Senior Advisor, Planned Giving at Breakfast Club of Canada. According to a recent study, generous people live happier lives.[1] Interesting, don’t you think? But that’s not all!

Did you know your donation entitles you to a tax credit that works out to about 33% for a donation of up to $200 and about 50% on any amounts above this?[2] But there are other ways to give beyond cash donations. Few people realize that if you own publicly traded shares that have increased significantly in value in the time since you acquired them and you use them to make a donation to the Club, there’s an extra incentive: you won’t have to pay tax on the corresponding capital gain.

Here’s an example to explain how this works:

Say you own shares that are currently valued at $2,000. You bought them a few years ago for $500. Normally, you would have to pay tax on half of the increase in value (i.e., the capital gain), or $750. By instead making a charitable donation of these shares, you’ll be exempt from this tax, which represents a substantial savings. If we estimate a rounded-off tax rate of 50%, that means an additional tax advantage of $375 — and that’s on top of the tax credit.[3]

Here is a video to help you better understand:

Whatever way you decide to show your support to BCC, you will be spreading the spirit of community that we have seen emerge in so many touching ways all year long and bring the magic of the season to children across the country. Help us put a twinkle in their eye by stepping up to the breakfast plate and feeding their appetite for success.

Happy Holidays, one and all!

THANK YOU TO JOCELYNE GONTHIER, MAJOR AND PLANNED GIFTS CONSULTANT, FOR HER INPUT IN WRITING THIS ARTICLE.
TO FIND OUT HOW TO DONATE PUBLICLY LISTED SECURITIES, WRITE TO US AT PLANNED.GIVING@BREAKFASTCLUBCANADA.ORG.
[1] SOURCE: STUDY CONDUCTED BY RESEARCHERS PHILIPPE TOBLER AND ERNST FEHR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ZURICH
[2] RATE WILL VARY DEPENDING ON YOUR TAXABLE INCOME.
[3] FOR A DONATION MADE IN THE PROVINCE OF QUEBEC.

LEGAL NOTICE
WE WOULD BE HAPPY TO ASSIST YOU IN YOUR PHILANTHROPIC PLANNING BUT WE ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO PROVIDE ANY FINANCIAL OR LEGAL ADVICE. PLEASE TALK TO A FINANCIAL ADVISOR, ACCOUNTANT, NOTARY, LAWYER OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL WHO IS FAMILIAR WITH YOUR FINANCIAL CIRCUMSTANCES AND THUS ABLE TO HELP YOU MAXIMIZE THE TAX BENEFITS OF YOUR CHARITABLE DONATIONS.