Strengthening the Local Food System Through School Nutrition Programs
In addition to working directly with school administrations, Breakfast Club of Canada teams up every day with front-line organizations and partners that oversee existing school and community food programs. BCC provides multiple forms of support to help them keep these programs running and maintain a children-first focus.
A special project designed to fight food insecurity
A number of initiatives have emerged from these collaborations. One of these is the SALSA project in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec. SALSA stands for “Service d’aide local en sécurité alimentaire,” which translates to “local food security assistance service.”
The project is an initiative of the community organization known as the Service d’intervention de proximité du Domaine-du-Roy (SIP-DDR), working jointly with the regional public health authority (Direction de santé publique, CIUSSS du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean), the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Coop Chambord, Résidence Labrecque, Le Tournant 3F, Club Richelieu Roberval, Club Rotary Domaine-du-Roy and Breakfast Club of Canada.
Ultimately, the goal of the SALSA project is to act as a hub for various local services. These include processing rescued food from retail establishments and farms and operating a community grocery store and collective kitchen.
How the Club is making a difference
In addition to providing financial support to get the SALSA project up and running, BCC is contributing to a pilot project known as SAC (Service d’alimentation communautaire). To date, SAC has helped enhance existing breakfast programs in seven schools in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region by adding local products and improving the overall quality of their menus to feed 538 students every morning. In addition, four schools in the area that weren’t already served by BCC were able to start a snack program with help from SAC.
The responsibility for sourcing food for these seven programs is a shared one: protein foods come from BCC and other sources, while fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods are provided by SIP-DDR. BCC also helps SIP-DDR with other aspects, including planning and budgeting. Over the longer term, the SALSA project aims to enable the region to become self-sufficient in managing these programs.
By the end of the first year of this joint project, roughly 25,000 breakfasts had been served to students. Going forward, the idea is to build on this success and expand the service to other eligible schools in the area.
New facilities, additional services
If the results thus far are any indication, with the Club’s help, the future of the SALSA project is bright indeed. A community warehouse and kitchen are currently under construction to store food items donated by partners and prepare full meals for school and community programs. These facilities will also be useful in making the most of food items rescued from various sources and in testing new and healthy recipes.
The positive impacts of this partnership are manifold:
- It ensures students have access to a variety of healthy and locally sourced foods.
- It encourages school programs to serve freshly prepared meals.
- It helps reduce the corresponding carbon footprint.
- It creates local jobs.
- It optimizes available resources (volunteers, transportation, funding, etc.).
- It rallies the community around a common goal.
- It contributes to developing nutrition-related infrastructure, capacity and local expertise.
A new partner
Inspired by the success of this initiative, a first local financial partner has agreed to do their part for children. Our thanks go out to Nutrinor for contributing to the SALSA project and getting the area one step closer to self-sufficiency with regard to these food programs.