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Breakfast Club of Canada is a non-profit organization that works with school communities to create and fund breakfast programs for children from lower-income families.
Breakfast Club of Canada is the brainchild of Daniel Germain, founder, and Judith Barry, co-founder. The Club was established in 1994 in order to overcome obstacles to children’s academic success. The Club grew within Quebec until 2005, when it extended its reach to include the rest of Canada. Today, it operates from coast to coast… to coast!
At Breakfast Club of Canada, nothing is more important than meeting children’s needs so they can maximize their potential. This determination to help them get ahead by including their community in the solution is the driving force behind all of the decisions made by the Club.
We are also committed to upholding the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to make a real and lasting difference in young people’s lives, both today and tomorrow. Through our work, we contribute directly to meeting 10 out of these 17 goals.
There are many different reasons why children may not be able to eat a healthy breakfast at home. Yes, it may be due to financial hardship, but let’s remember that some children need to leave home very early in the morning to get to school and may not actually be hungry before they head out the door. And in other cases, parents’ work schedules may be such that they need to drop their children off at the school daycare as soon as it opens.
Regardless, we believe that every child should have access to a wholesome breakfast so they start the day ready to learn and make the most of their potential.
It is also important to note here that families are actually encouraged to participate in their school’s breakfast program through parental contributions, supplementary donations, volunteering, committee involvement and other ways.
One out of every four students starts the school day with little or nothing to eat. Poverty is the cause of food insecurity in one out of six cases. That is why we specifically target disadvantaged communities, where our breakfast programs can have the greatest impact.
For many families, these programs eliminate the stress of getting a healthy meal on the table during an already hectic morning routine.
It is important to emphasize that our role goes beyond serving breakfast. Children who benefit from our programs are greeted every morning by a group of trusted adults in a caring, comforting environment. This does wonders for their overall growth and development. As an added bonus, they are exposed to a wide variety of healthy foods, which they are then more open to incorporating into their diet over the long term.
Over the years, Indigenous communities have been subjected to innumerable injustices, making them more vulnerable to poverty, malnutrition and higher school dropout rates. For example, almost half of the Indigenous children live under the poverty line, and close to 60% of children in Nunavut experience some form of food insecurity. Childhood obesity rates in Indigenous communities are alarmingly high, just under 50%, contributing to soaring rates of Type 2 diabetes in adulthood. It therefore stands to reason that breakfast programs can be particularly beneficial in these circumstances.
Starting a breakfast program involves a significant investment in terms of financial and human resources. Moreover, we need to put everything in place so that the program can run for at least three years in order to have a real and lasting impact on the school community. Our funding comes from several different sources, including the private sector, individual donations and government programs. None of these contributions is guaranteed over the long term, which means we have to be cautious in our planning and grow at a sustainable pace. Otherwise, we may put our programs in jeopardy and risk reneging on our promise to our kids.
When funding availability is confirmed for a new breakfast program, priority is given to schools in underprivileged communities as well as those at the top of the waiting list.
It takes a village! You need to reach out to various people and organizations who care about children’s health and well-being. We have some specific guidelines that each new program must follow. These have been developed over the years to help each program thrive and have the greatest impact on the children in the community.
Interested? Submit your application here.
In schools with an existing breakfast program, the administration will send out a registration form to all students at the beginning of the school year. Note that all schools that are part of Breakfast Club of Canada are required to offer universal access to their breakfast program. This springs from our core belief that every child deserves to start their day with a nutritious breakfast, regardless of circumstance. This approach helps to avoid singling out children from low-income families. In many programs, the students themselves can volunteer. The experience serves to strengthen their nutritional awareness, their community spirit and their leadership skills. Similarly, parents are invited to get involved to the program, either by volunteering or making a token financial contribution.
A breakfast program is like a big family gathering. It’s a place where everyone is welcomed with open arms and open hearts. Students can eat breakfast without feeling rushed. They are exposed to a variety of nutritious foods and learn healthy eating habits.
The ultimate responsibility for menu planning falls to each school breakfast program. We nevertheless prepare a four-week menu featuring a variety of healthy food choices that meet the recommendations set forth in Canada’s Food Guide. We also ensure that each program receives a diverse supply of food to maximize the nutritional value of each meal served.
The breakfasts themselves can vary from school to school, depending on the available facilities. Some schools prepare a hot breakfast in a cafeteria-style setting, while others serve a cold breakfast directly in the classroom. Obviously, these considerations have an influence on specific menu selections.
Schools are the beating heart of what we do at the Club. They are the driving force behind each breakfast program. We leverage our expertise to support them in various operational aspects.
Schools are responsible for securing staff buy-in, recruiting volunteers, creating and maintaining a coordination committee, obtaining a portion of the necessary funding, purchasing food and supplies, and delivering services in accordance with the Club’s quality standards.
School staff members are also encouraged to get involved in their breakfast program, which can be an excellent opportunity to forge meaningful connections with students outside of the classroom. This can help improve the overall learning environment and help boost students’ academic performance.
Volunteers contribute to school breakfast programs in many ways. On the front lines, they can help in preparing and serving food and in creating a warm, welcoming environment for young Club members. Volunteers are also indispensable in a behind-the-scenes capacity, preparing supplies to be shipped out to schools, organizing fundraisers and more.
Want to volunteer your time to make a difference in children’s lives? Sign up here!
Students are actively encouraged to chip in. More than 6,000 young volunteers help prepare and serve breakfast in their school. We also host leadership camps for students who volunteer their time with their school breakfast program.
In addition, children are asked to help clean up before they go to their classroom in order to instill a sense of responsibility.
Parents are encouraged to contribute, either by volunteering with the Club or by making a token financial contribution. Their efforts, combined with community contributions, are vital to offering high-quality, nutritionally balanced and varied breakfasts to our kids. However, the final decision as to whether or not to ask for parental contributions is up to the school administration.
Since 2004, we have worked to establish key partnerships with sponsors who share our commitment to bettering the lives of young Canadians. Through monetary, food and in-kind donations (including the supplies required to get a program up and running), substantial discounts on product and shipment costs, and other initiatives, we stretch every donation dollar to the maximum to benefit our kids.
Making sure children get enough to eat and have what it takes to achieve their potential is something we must address as a society. For that, everybody has to work together – schools, the private sector, the non-profit community and government agencies.
It’s important to remember that government assistance is often tied to specific undertakings, such as opening a new school breakfast program. Funding is also essential in maintaining Club activities that are not supported by government initiatives.
A platform has been developed by the Club to make it easy for you to organize your own fundraiser. You can use it to tell people about your campaign and create teams. For more details, go to give.breakfastclubcanada.org.
We are also set up to receive donations through Facebook. However, it is important to note that the way the Facebook donation system is designed prevents us from issuing a receipt for your gift or sending you a personal acknowledgement to thank you for your generosity.
We gratefully accept all monetary donations (one-time or monthly) and planned gifts.
Thank you for your consideration and for your interest in helping to make a difference in the lives of thousands of kids. You do not have to be available on a daily basis to volunteer at a school breakfast program. However, we do ask for a minimum commitment of one morning a month in order to establish regular contact with the students. Please note that, for the safety and security of our children, we require all prospective volunteers to undergo a police check.
Thank you so much for wanting to do your part to help feed children across Canada. Unfortunately, food safety and hygiene requirements prevent us from accepting individual food donations. However, if your company is interested in becoming one of our food partners, we urge you to contact us: email@example.com.
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