Little girl spreading jam on melba toast

 

Now here’s a green idea from St-François-de-Sales municipality in Quebec for reducing a school breakfast program’s carbon footprint and helping students keep their desk space clean and tidy!

All students at École Boisjoli school received a reusable “école-O” placemat they can use to eat their breakfast in the classroom and bring in utensils from home.

Designed by a local craftswoman, the placemat comes with a zippered pouch and is made of lined, spill- and stain-resistant material. To take it home after they’re done eating, students simply roll it back up and put it in their school bag.

By using washable utensils for breakfast every day, students can do something good for the environment and keep more than 10,000 plastic forks, knives and spoons from being thrown out in the course of a year!

Breakfast Program During The Pandemic | Breakfast Club of Canada

Since the beginning of this school year, we have had the opportunity to exchange ideas, resources and challenges with several schools through email communications, phone calls and webinars. We know that it has been an uncertain start to the school year with many changes influenced by COVID-19. We’ve been doing our best to provide you with as much support and as many resources as possible to ensure that you all provide a nutritious breakfast to students while navigating changes and challenges. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to check out resources we shared last month: Recommended Single Serve Products, Sample – Adapted Breakfast Menu and our Toolkit – Breakfast Program Adapted COVID-19.

Here are some creative ideas introduced by a few schools that joined various Breakfast Club of Canada Open Houses (webinars). While they don’t cover every aspect of breakfast programming, they show that many of you have created out-of-the-box ways to navigate this challenging time and still provide a nutritious breakfast each morning! If any of you have additional ideas that you’ve employed, we’d love to hear about them – please don’t hesitate to share them with your Club coordinator, and thank you to those who have shared the ideas below with us:

Pre-Order Menus

When possible, some schools can use a pre-order menu for their class bins, where teachers/students know the weekly menu, and the class completes an order in advance. The class simply marks what they would like on the menu with the basket (x boxes of cereal for Friday) and bins for the classroom are stocked based on the orders returned with the baskets.

Vending Machines

While some schools are not allowed to use vending machines anymore, some are looking to use them to offer pre-packaged, healthy items with sanitizing stations next to them, and use funding for administration to stock the machines so students can collect a free meal there.

Adaptive Menu Ideas

A school board restricted from serving any fresh fruit considered ordering through a distributor like Sysco (pre-packaged apple slices and fruit cups that are sealed individually). *We recommend the fruit cups that are packed in water as opposed to syrup, as these have much less added sugar.

A grocery store is doing delivery of cheese strings and vegetables that are cut up. Individual milk cartons are also delivered.

Freezing yogurt with popsicle sticks can eliminate the need for spoons.

Rather than buying cheese strings, a school is buying pre-sliced blocks of cheese and cuts the slices in two, pairing with whole wheat crackers.

One school that can prepare food purchased a cheese slicer and makes quick cheese sticks from the large block to add to individual snack packs; cheese is much less expensive that way.

Here are some highlights of questions and responses shared from schools across the country:

Q: How are you planning to serve breakfast now with COVID changes?

  • The staff are scheduled to support the program as part of their responsibilities in the school. They prepare fresh foods and support clean-up at the end of the day. Bins are organized and teachers pick up their class bin every morning. Teachers are the ones who safely handle the food after preparation.
  • Just one person in the kitchen serves kids at the counter restaurant-style, with a guided path – one in and out at a time. All food will be prepped, and students follow the arrows, choose their food and go.
  • We are making breakfast burritos ahead, then freezing them. When taking them out to serve for breakfast, we warm in the microwave or warmer.

Q: Serving breakfast to 18 classes is impossible so I’m struggling to get food to students.

  • That is why I give the food to teachers. There just isn’t enough time for one person to distribute to all the classes.
  • I take my cart of foods to each classroom, so that I can check in and make sure that everyone is getting what they need.

Q: Are we allowed to reach out to organizations such as Knights of Columbus to ask for extra funding?

  • Solution from a Club coordinator : Certainly! We always encourage schools to look to multiple avenues of support for their program to ensure that it is sustainable, and local groups are a great choice (Rotary groups and Lions Clubs among others).
Lady with paper brown bags and breakfast itmes like oranges, bananas, muffins

The announcement of heading back to school after months of school closures undoubtedly caused some anxiety for school staff, parents and students alike. The unknown can be unsettling, and breakfast program coordinators at the schools had to act quickly to ensure students would still receive the nutrition they need to succeed. Bedford Road Collegiate in Saskatoon, SK, shared how being flexible with their program model in these uncertain times has been key for their current program’s success.

Last year, their breakfast program was set up in a high-traffic area outside of the office near the school’s front entrance. Students would take breakfast from the breakfast station and then head to their classrooms. This model posed some challenges for the school this year, though, as they moved into a student-cohort model. Each cohort must use different doors to enter and exit the school, so they could no longer have breakfast in a single centralized space. Students and additional volunteers are also not allowed to serve food, posing a challenge for getting breakfasts ready and served to students each morning. Lastly, they were not able to serve food as openly as they did before and became limited to more single-serve type foods.

The solution for Bedford Road Collegiate was to start making individual breakfast bags for students and put them at all five of the cohort doors. The teachers already assigned to hallway supervision have been welcoming students into the school each morning and giving them their breakfast bags if they would like one. Because the school is not able to run their usual lunch canteen, the staff who typically runs the canteen has been helping to batch cook and prepare the breakfast bags for students instead. They are serving more individually packaged foods like yogurt, cheese, milk, fruits, cereals, and even homemade muffins and healthy breakfast cookies. One of their concerns when it started up again in September was not being sure how many bags to prepare each morning, but it seems the number of students accessing the breakfast program has not changed too drastically at this point.

Now that they have been doing things this way for a number of weeks, they have gotten into the groove and the program is running quite smoothly!

 

(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 few months ago, a school in the Aroland First Nation community in Ontario received a special grant from Breakfast Club of Canada’s Emergency Fund. Bill Beaucage, the school’s principal, sent us a moving letter to express his gratitude. A must-read!

Dear Breakfast Club of Canada,

Aroland’s Breakfast Food Hamper Program is extremely essential for the children and families in our community. Volunteers from our school and community are assisting us with packing hampers and delivering them to all 114 homes in Aroland. In my eyes, these volunteers, hamper packers and deliverers are the true heroes that are the reason why this program is and continues to be a success in our community.


“I feel awesome because now people get to have things to cook on, fruit to eat, breakfast.” – Melissa Megan (Volunteer Packer)

Every second Friday, a food order is delivered from Daneff’s Food Market in Geraldton, Ontario, to Aroland. These hampers are providing the essential breakfast food items families need in our absence. Grill/griddle combination sets, frying pans and spatulas were also delivered to all our homes.

It has been gratifying reading all the “thank you” comments that families and households are sharing with us. One comment in particular this past week said, “Thank you so much. This was over the top.”


“I am happy to deliver to my community. It just helps everybody in living properly here.” – Rolland Towedo (Volunteer Delivery Driver)

Please know that every dollar that your organization has provided Aroland First Nation from your very generous donors is making a huge difference and impact at the very doorstep of every household in the community.

Thank you to Breakfast Club of Canada for your financial support and the generosity of your donors during these unprecedented times. Thanks to all of you, great work is taking place in small communities like Aroland, Ontario, and across our great country.

Stay safe, stay well.

Bill Beaucage
Principal
Johnny Therriault School, Aroland

With our back-to-school campaign at Breakfast Club of Canada now in full swing, there’s no better time to check in with the two wonderful and big-hearted women who have stepped up to serve as our campaign spokespeople. Read on to find out more about what makes them tick.

Jessi and her lovely twins. Follow her on Instagram!

JESSI CRUICKSHANK

We are delighted to welcome Jessi Cruickshank to the Breakfast Club of Canada family, as the English spokesperson for the #StopChildHunger campaign.

Jessi’s career kicked off with MTV Canada, where she appeared in a number of successful programs, earning a slew of accolades and a faithful fan base along the way. She then turned her on-screen talents to CTV, E!, The CW and CBC as the host of a number of highly popular shows.

She recently created a new Facebook Watch series, New Mom, Who Dis?, which takes a fun, refreshing look at various aspects of first-time parenthood. As the mother of two twin boys, she is keenly aware of the importance and benefits of breakfast on early child development.

“Making my kids breakfast in the morning is a privilege. This year, because of the repercussions of COVID-19, 1 in 3 children will go to school on an empty stomach. When I heard that, I wanted to do anything I could to help.” – Jessi Cruickshank

We are proud to have these two remarkable women on board to shine the spotlight on the work we do and to raise public awareness about the problem of food insecurity as the school year gets underway.

Valérie and her stepdaughters. Follow her on Instagram!

VALÉRIE ROBERTS

Valérie Roberts was a natural choice to front the #StopChildHunger campaign within the French-speaking community. Valérie has been a familiar face on the small screen since 2007, when she won the coveted “VJ recherché” contest at Musique Plus. She has since appeared in numerous programs on V Télé, ICI Radio-Canada and Vrak TV. Her radio work includes stints with 96.9 CKOI and as a cultural commentator at 98.5 FM. She is also a writer and a regular contributor to such magazines as Clin d’oeil and Cool!, as well as enVedette.ca and lookdujour.ca.

“I can’t bear to think that there are students out there whose ability to learn is being compromised by a lack of food in the morning.” – Valérie Roberts

As a stepmom to two girls, and having recently written a book on the topic, she was the ideal person to team up with Breakfast Club of Canada for the back-to-school campaign in order to make sure even more children across the country start their day with a healthy breakfast.

Add your voice to ours and become a BCC ambassador!

Does our campaign resonate with you? Would you like to show your support for Breakfast Club of Canada and help fight child food insecurity? Contact us about becoming an ambassador: Janic.Aubin-Bergeron@breakfastclubcanada.org.

You would like to make a donation?

Please give online or text CLUB to 20222. Your generosity means the world to us – and to them! THANK YOU!

“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 is the wiz behind Sushi à la maison. With 10 cookbooks published, some 30 food products available on supermarket shelves and two restaurants in Montreal and Quebec City, hers is a truly remarkable rags-to-riches story. And yet, she has no qualms about delving into the trials and tribulations of her childhood.

“They say kids have it easy. That may be the case for some, but for others childhood is little more than a pipedream and they’re forced to grow up way too fast.” (Translation of a quote on her official website)

School breakfast programs changed Geneviève’s life. Breakfast Club of Canada helped mitigate the food insecurity she experienced at home. Despite her poverty-stricken upbringing, she maintains a “glass half full” outlook. Because everything she has gone through makes her who she is today.

To find out more about everybody’s favourite “sushipreneur,” we asked her a few questions about her school years and her breakfast program memories.

BCC: Hi, Geneviève! Thanks for agreeing to talk to us about your experience. To start off, what was the food situation like at home when you were growing up?

Geneviève: At my house, getting food on the table was always a bit of a scramble. We’d go to food banks and church basements, but what we got there wasn’t always that appetizing. Fortunately, my mom was a really good cook. She’d always manage to whip up something amazing with a tray of frozen sausages and a few carrots. I often saw her go without so that I’d get enough to eat. I remember on the first of the month, she’d always do something special, but it never lasted. The rest of the time, we’d scrape by just to get three meals a day. And breakfast often fell by the wayside.

BCC: There are lots of reasons kids don’t eat breakfast at home. Some people’s mornings are just too rushed, or there may be a long bus ride in to school. Other kids simply like having breakfast with their friends. In your case, it was because your family often couldn’t afford it. Did you realize back then there was a difference between you and the other children?

Geneviève: I thought it was normal not to eat breakfast at home. I didn’t think any of my friends did either. I started to clue in when I would go on sleepovers at homes where they were better off financially. But I had other friends from food-insecure families who were in the same boat as me, so I didn’t feel singled out.

BCC: Do you have any memories of the breakfast program you used to go to? Did you enjoy yourself?

Geneviève: Having the breakfast program in my life was a BLESSING. I was very lucky you were there for me. Not only for breakfast but, to be brutally frank, I’d even go back for leftovers when the lunch bell went off. That was my midday meal.

BCC: Do you think hunger had any adverse effects on your life?

Geneviève: Anxiety, probably, and worry about whether or not there’d be enough to eat. That was the worst part of it. I didn’t talk about it very often. I was admittedly too proud for my own good.

BCC: During this back-to-school season, 1 out of 3 children across the country will be going to school on an empty stomach. How do you feel when you hear a statistic like that?

Geneviève: I have to say it floors me. My first reaction is, “It’s 2020! How can that be?” It’s as if our brains can’t process the sheer magnitude of the situation. And it’s happening right under our noses. The people who are having trouble feeding their kids could be your friends, your neighbours or your co-workers.

Knowing that 1 out of 3 Canadian children don’t get breakfast in the morning breaks my heart. When you’re young and growing, eating before you go to school is CRUCIAL. It obviously helps kids concentrate and do well in class. But it’s not just about filling their bellies: it’s about giving them hope, making them feel like they have someone to turn to for help and support, and in some cases giving them a way out, which is what it did for me.

Our sincere thanks to Geneviève Everell for opening up her heart to us. If this interview struck a chord with you, be sure to go to her website to learn more about her story.

Breakfast Club of Canada’s back-to-school fundraising campaign will help the more than 2 million children who would otherwise start their day hungry for food instead of hungry for knowledge. Help us reach out to as many of them as possible by making an online donation or by texting CLUB to 20222.