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Breakfast club of canada man kneeling in a classroom in Tunisia

The Club attended the 2018 Global Child Nutrition Forum (GCNF) from October 21 to 25 in Tunisia. It was an ideal occasion to connect and discuss with key players from around the world. Here are the 5 most important lessons we learned.

1. We had a significant impact at the 2017 GCNF 

The Forum kicked off with a recap of last year’s event, which the Club organized alongside the City of Montreal. We were honoured to hear nothing but positive feedback! Our passion and expertise inspired other participants; they were impressed by the magnitude of our actions across Canada and are searching for ways to have as big an influence in their own country.

2. Average education levels are on the rise

Around the world, employers are requiring higher education levels and more qualified workers. This issue is even apparent within the United Nations. In some African nations, the only job requirement used to be an elementary school diploma. Now, applicants require a high school diploma. Today, many countries are encouraging children to pursue postsecondary education because of how fast the world is evolving. With the cycles of change shortening, workers need to be able to keep up. Academic success is therefore increasingly important in the world of work.

3. School nutrition is a global emergency

With the phenomenon of a greater rate of higher education comes the immediate need to feed more children in schools. It would cost $4.6 billion to feed every child at risk in the world. In spite of the urgency of the situation, the global economy and large companies are still not ready to prioritize school nutrition, which we need to work on to help the 73 million children currently at risk.

4. Solidarity in the search for solutions

GCNF participants were more present and engaged than ever. In addition to the presentations and workshops at the event, there were many one-on-one discussions about best practices, ways to access food at a lower cost, educational documentation, and more. This is in line with our values and beliefs. Together, we will reach our goal!

Daniel Germain with Arlene Mitchell, Executive Director of Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF)

5. School nutrition initiatives reach far too few children in some countries

For example, in Congo, only 30,000 children are fed through school nutrition programs. Compare this with the 220,000 children Breakfast Club of Canada reaches daily in Canada. Many solutions were also shared to help everyone diversify their revenue sources to feed more children.

Attending the 2018 Global Child Nutrition Forum was very important to us. We learned a great deal there, but we gave back even more. The results show how much of an impact we have had both here in Canada and internationally. We are proud to do our part to help put an end to child food insecurity worldwide.

3 girls taking a picture

Kélie-Ann and sisters Geneviève and Maély were the lucky recipients of a special surprise on November 7, thanks to Dreams Take Flight. Their destination? Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, for their first trip ever!

Dreams Take Flight is a national volunteer charitable organization dedicated to providing the trip of a lifetime to selected children. With the help of Air Canada and other organizations, funds are raised to make dreams come true for young people across the country.

We talked to the three very excited girls just before they took off on their adventure!

Kélie-Ann, 8

The outgoing third-grader has been a Club member for a little over a year.

What does she like most about Breakfast Club of Canada? “I really like the English muffins and eating breakfast with my cousins who go to the Club too!” She also likes the volunteers, who she says are very nice. “My favourite is Linda. Every time it’s someone’s birthday, she decorates the room!”

How did she find out she had been picked for Dreams Take Flight? Her mother told her she was bringing her to do something special. They ended up at the Air Canada offices where Kélie-Ann learned about the trip. On the way there, her mother asked her what her biggest dreams were. Without suspecting what was going on, Kélie-Ann answered, “I’d love to get on a plane and go to Disneyland!”

What was her reaction when she got back? She said that if she ever had kids herself, she would like them to have the same experience.

Geneviève, 11 

She’s in Grade 5. She’s quiet and mature for her age. She has a great relationship with Sylvie, her favourite volunteer. “I like to go see Sylvie. We tell each other jokes before school starts.”

When she found out she was headed to one of the most magical places on earth, she was surprised and overjoyed! She said she was looking forward to meeting her favourite princess, Moana, and telling her family and friends about her adventure when she returned. “I’m going to bring back all sorts of souvenirs and pictures, and I’ll tell my class and my teacher all about it!”

Maély, 7

Maély is a fair-haired second grader with a beautiful smile. Her favourite breakfast? “I like bread, bagels, toast and English muffins.” If it comes from a bakery, she likes it!

When we met her, she told us she was looking forward to her trip because she knew the experience would be unforgettable. She said she would miss her parents and would give them lots of hugs before she went. She was eager to watch airplanes taking off from the ground and to see clouds outside the window once she was in the air. Why was she picked? “My mother told me I’m very generous and my teacher Marilyn says I’m a hard worker.”

The big day

Early in the morning, all three girls left for the Air Canada hangar for an unforgettable 24-hour adventure. They shared a couple of selfies with us before they left. Each picture is indeed worth a thousand words!

   

Thank you to Dreams Take Flight and the Air Canada Foundation for giving children the chance to take a trip they will remember for the rest of their lives!

group of children gathered for a snow day

Youth volunteerism has always played an important role at Breakfast Club of Canada and has become a wonderful developmental tool for youth. To honour our budding social leaders’ commitment towards their breakfast program, selected young volunteers get to experience an exciting, empowering and informative week in one of our Leadership Camps across Canada. Leadership camps are fully integrated within the Club’s youth volunteerism vision. The camp experience gives them the time and space needed to develop new skills and work on plans to optimize their breakfast program upon their return.

The next Leadership Camp will be held at the Tim Horton Camp Whiteshell in Manitoba, from March 14 until March 18, 2019.  30 Indigenous youth from Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan and British-Columbia will gather for the occasion.

We are very fortunate to have generous partners such as the Sprott FoundationAeroplan and Air Canada Foundation, who make this all possible!

Maya, Carl and Michaël were given a very special assignment

On June 3, Maya, Carl and Michaël were given a very special assignment: attend our signature event and report back on the experience. Here, in their own words, are their impressions of what they saw.

MAYA, YOUNG REPORTER

Hello!

My name is Maya. Two of my friends and I were picked to be the young reporters at Breakfast Club of Canada’s 23rd Rendez-vous annuel de la Classique at Le Mirage golf club owned by Céline Dion.

When we got there, we had to hurry up to go listen to a guest speaker. There were 43 people in the room. Pierre Riel, the Chair of the Board of Directors of Breakfast Club of Canada, explained that his involvement started with the muffins from Costco. Daniel Germain knocked on his door and asked him: “I’d like some of your muffins to feed our kids at breakfast.”

After the talk, we ate a great brunch. There was lots of fruit and desserts. Then we stayed inside to ask the guests some questions. My question was “Why are you helping Breakfast Club of Canada?”

Answer from Benoît Gagnon (TV and radio host): When he was younger, he didn’t know that a friend of his never got the chance to eat breakfast in the morning. When he found out about Breakfast Club of Canada, he immediately fell for the idea.

Answer from Roch Voisine (singer): He has two children, aged 13 and 15. He thinks it’s important for all children to start their day on the right foot. He likes playing in golf tournaments and if he can help feed kids while he’s at it, that’s even better.

Maya, Grade 4

AN UNFORGETTABLE HALF-DAY

One beautiful Monday morning, I woke up knowing I had an unforgettable day ahead of me at Club de golf Le Mirage.

Josée, our coordinator, took us to the Club and gave us a very specific set of instructions. When we arrived, there was a press conference. Then we were invited to enjoy a delicious buffet-style brunch.

After that, we started to interview people. It went very well and it was a lot of fun. We got to play with Youppi, the Canadiens’ mascot, and had a very long photo session. Then the celebrities who were there went to play golf.

In the end, it was definitely an unforgettable half-day!

Carl, Grade 5

AN AMAZING ADVENTURE

I’m going to tell you what happened to me when I went to Céline Dion’s golf club!

To start, I went to a press conference, where I learned that there are 3,400 volunteers in Quebec working for Breakfast Club of Canada.

The Club was started in 1994 by Daniel Germain when he found out that there were children going to school without breakfast. He thought, “I’ll start something to feed children… for the ones who don’t get breakfast.”

So it’s because of him that Breakfast Club of Canada exists. If a school doesn’t have the right supplies, he gets it for them, and the food too. There are 1,000 schools in Quebec and 800 that could have a breakfast program.

Michaël, Grade 6

 

breakfast club of canada baloons

Kickoff of Breakfast Club of Canada’s 25th anniversary year

  • 40 million breakfasts served
  • 1,809 breakfast programs currently running
  • 243,000 children eating breakfast every morning

These are just a few numbers to give you a better idea of what the Club has accomplished over the past quarter of a century.

But rest assured there’s no chance of president and founder Daniel Germain and co-founder Judith Barry resting on their laurels. They’re determined to make sure EVERY child in Canada has access to a healthy morning meal, every single day. That works out to over a million students covered by a national meal program – something every G7 country except Canada already has.

On November 5, Daniel and Judith travelled to Lionel-Groulx School in Longueuil, Quebec – where the whole adventure first began 25 years ago – to commemorate this milestone and stress their commitment to doing even more in the future. Another 100 or so staff members followed their lead, lending a helping hand at breakfast programs across the country.

Video: 25 Years of Heartwarming Stories

We also held a brunch event in Boucherville, Quebec, near our head office, where partners, volunteers and employees came to celebrate 25 years of wonderful memories and noteworthy achievements.

Video: Breakfast Club of Canada’s 25th Anniversary

There will be other special events between now and November 2020 to mark this important anniversary. Be sure to check back for the latest updates and watch for #BCCturns25 on your favourite social media platform. Click here for some great pictures from the day’s festivities!

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Crowd of people looking at fireworks

Is there anything more endearing than a sparkle of wonder in a child’s eyes?

Have you ever heard of Dreams Take Flight?

It’s a charity that current and former Air Canada employees created in collaboration with the Air Canada Foundation to give children from underprivileged communities the chance to experience a day of pure magic.

Every year, young recipients are selected from a number of organizations, including Breakfast Club of Canada, to take part in a very special 24-hour trip to Walt Disney.

This year, the big day came on November 6. On board the southbound plane were one student from Adrien-Gamache School and three from Curé-Paquin School.

Their trip was many things: jam-packed, fun-filled, awe-inspiring and, most of all, chock-full of magical moments.

Jean Pelletier, assistant principal of Adrien-Gamache School, asked Magalie Dalcourt, the student who was chosen for this year’s trip, for her impressions. She had nothing but glowing remarks. In fact, she described the entire day without pausing for a breath!

“There were Disney characters at the airport. And you know what? They had great big fairy-tale doors. And the clown in the airplane was so funny! My ears hurt a little, but I flew right above the clouds. What I liked the most was the rollercoaster in the dark. It was amazing. There was magic everywhere – everywhere! Then I met Tinkerbell and she watched the fireworks with us. After, we took a boat to go back to our plane and I even almost lost my glasses! Good thing I didn’t! And it was such a nice warm day – not like it is here right now!”

It’s easy to imagine Magalie’s eyes glisten with joy and excitement as she recounted her adventure – and feeling that may stay with her forever. The day was a hit in so many ways.

But how did Magalie get picked for the trip? Simple! She was nominated by Mr. Pelletier and Club volunteer Linda Gauthier. Linda sees Magalie every morning at the school breakfast program. Linda had witnessed first-hand how much of a go-getter Magalie is and how quick she is to lend a helping hand, always treating others with respect. Congratulations, Magalie! That’s something to be very proud of!

Her travel companions were three students from Curé-Paquin School, some of whom come from a bit of a rocky background. The trip was a unique experience that got them out of their comfort zone and boosted their self-esteem: remember they were travelling by themselves, without their parents, and taking the plane for the very first time. They were practically bursting with pride!

Josée Brunelle, the principal at Curé-Paquin, was effusive in her praise for the initiative: “When we let parents know their child has been chosen for such an incredible experience, they are overcome with emotion. They are often moved to tears – of joy, naturally. And their gratitude is palpable – as is their children’s!”

When all is said and done, this is much more than a simple trip to Disney. It’s a voyage of discovery, designed to show students how fantastic life can be and to let them know that their efforts do not go unnoticed.

The breakfast program at Curé-Paquin School is greatly appreciated by parents, too. The volunteers who work there are extraordinary. They are students from high school and CEGEP and adults who come help out before their work day begins. They generously give more than just their time: they are a source of comfort, security and friendship.

Together, these volunteers are pointing the way to a better world. They are showing their young charges how beautiful life can be.

After their day of enchantment, the kids return home, still with a dreamy look on their face and their hearts overflowing with delight.

Thank you to Dreams Take Flight and our partners at Air Canada Foundation, as well as other sponsors who make this uplifting initiative possible – and put that special sparkle in so many eyes!

children laughing in cafeteria

Breakfast Club of Canada, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, is proud and grateful to have earned Imagine Canada accreditation. This designation attests to our commitment to directing all of our funds where they need to go, to nurturing potential, growing healthy students and giving an equal chance of success to all kids.

The Imagine Canada Standards Program applies to charitable and non-profit organizations in Canada. Of over 170,000 non-profits across the country, only 200+ have received this accreditation to date. We are honoured to join the ranks of these organizations recognized for their excellence, leadership and credibility. The Club is one of the first organizations to focus on school nutrition and only the second with nation-wide reach. To be approved, we had to meet 75 requirements in five key areas:

  • Board governance
  • Financial accountability and transparency
  • Fundraising
  • Staff management
  • Volunteer involvement.

This accreditation will allow us to build further on our already strong reputation in order to extend our network of partners and donors. This kind of recognition is often taken into account when key decisions are made. It is proof of our commitment, professionalism and transparency in everything we do.

Now that we are Imagine Canada accredited, we hope to be able to support even more schools and make an even greater difference in the lives of young Canadians, one breakfast at a time.

Learn more: Press Release

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The Global Child Nutrition Forum

The Global Child Nutrition Forum

Judith Barry, Daniel Germain and Arlene Mitchell

Every year, leaders from around the world gather together to discuss the advances and challenges in child nutrition in their respective communities. For many years now, members of the Club’s team have been among the guests, thanks to the generosity of the Air Canada Foundation. We are always inspired by the diverse expertise we are exposed to and appreciate the opportunity to share our own experience with other organizations.

In December 2019, Daniel and Judith travelled to Cambodia to attend the 21st annual Global Child Nutrition Forum. They learned a great deal during their trip, which they were happy to relate to us when they got back – and we in turn are happy to share their insights with you to inspire you to do even more for the next generation.

The issue

Worldwide, there are 73 million elementary school–aged children who do not have access to a school nutrition program.

The challenges

One of the obstacles faced by many charities is the false perception of having to compete with other organizations, rather than work together. At the Club, we revel in the opportunity to pool our resources and speak in a unified voice. As such, we are stepping up our efforts to further build our network – which will ultimately translate to even more services for children.

Another challenge currently facing our peers around the world is how to properly assess and leverage the benefits of school food programs. We all know that children cannot achieve their full potential on an empty stomach. Although there are many studies and concrete data to back this up, we need to be even more thorough in our documentation and to shine the spotlight on the positive outcomes of our programs so we can persuade stakeholders across the social, political and business spectrum to join us in our efforts. We feel this is a particularly pressing need. We are therefore working with a social impact agency, which is currently conducting an evaluation of the Club’s efforts and approaches nation-wide. Our ultimate goal is to make sure every one of our actions leads to results.

School meal programs in Cambodia

Given that the 21st annual GCNF was hosted by Cambodia, it was an ideal opportunity for us to learn more about how they tackle the issue of making sure children have the energy to learn, every day.

  • Every year, Cambodia celebrates National Nutrition Day, during which parents, school administrators and members of the community come together to prepare and serve a meal for schoolchildren and then sit down to enjoy it with them.
  • Although it represents only a small percentage of the food consumed, every school in Cambodia has a garden, which they use to teach the value of healthy eating.
  • All parents and children are invited to share feedback about their nutrition program.
  • Menus vary seasonally. Schools plan about six alternating daily menus, which are changed monthly to incorporate a variety of fresh seasonal food.
  • Schools also receive assistance from an NGO, which helps them manage their nutrition program and improve the quality of what they grow in their garden.

Inspiration from around the world

Other organizations and countries also shared their experiences at GCNF. Here are a few we found particularly interesting.

  • study conducted by the United Nations World Food Programme in conjunction with Harvard University found that every $1 invested in a school meal program generated $3 to $10 in societal benefits.
  • In Bangladesh, one aspect of a child nutrition program involves educating parents about the importance of good eating habits and their impact on a child’s development.
  • Japanese schools have nutrition teachers on staff to lead school meal programs.
  • The school nutrition program in Palau is partially funded by taxes levied on junk food and tobacco products.
  • In Brazil, 30% of the food served in school programs is sourced from local farmers.

We hope that this quick look at some of the ideas that have been developed around the world will give you some “food for thought” as we continue to develop our own solutions to improve child nutrition right here in Canada.