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Daughter with a backpack on and father with hand around her

Here is the story of Sarah, who attended a breakfast program as a child and was deeply touched by the experience:

Hi! My name’s Sarah. I’m 20.

I’m writing to you today to say thank you.

I used the Club’s services when I was in kindergarten. My mom earned a good living and we always had plenty to eat at home, but when she got cancer, she had to go to work really early in the morning. So I was always one of the first kids at the daycare when it opened. Someone suggested she enrol me in the breakfast program, since what I ate at home at 5 a.m. was a distant memory by the time classes started at 9 a.m.

You changed my life forever.

The TLC you gave me when I was a little girl had a huge impact on me. You made me feel welcome every day. You asked how my mom was doing. You made sure my mornings were never dreary. I still remember when one of us would have a birthday, we’d get to pick a present out of a wooden basket.

I was devastated when I had to leave the breakfast program! I loved it so much! Even though I’m 20 now, I’m still grateful you took such good care of me.

I send a donation to the Club every year as my personal thank-you. That’s my way of making sure your services are available to another child who needs you as much as I did back then.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Keep up the amazing work! Don’t ever stop!

Sarah

Did you attend a breakfast program as a child and have a story to share? Send it to us through this form or by email at info@breakfastclubcanada.org.

Support children like Sarah by making a donation!

Child with long hair eating a piece of bread

On World Food Day, we would like to highlight the importance of universal access to healthy eating for children across the country.

Did you know that in elementary school, one in three students does not eat an adequate breakfast, and one in four skips breakfast altogether? In high school, the statistic of students who don’t eat breakfast is one in two! (Source: Statistics Canada)

These statistics arise from food insecurity caused by poverty, unhealthy eating habits, as well as stress and time constraints experienced by families. In consequence, this amplifies several social issues, including public health issues.

These statistics are likely to arise from food insecurity caused by poverty, unhealthy eating habits, as well as stress and time constraints experienced by families. In consequence, this amplifies multiple social issues, including public health issues. Food security is said to exist when “all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” (Source: Proof Toronto)

The statistics are worrisome: one in six Canadian children faces food insecurity.

For these reasons, Breakfast Club of Canada works in conjunction with numerous partners and volunteers to feed and educate children, and their communities, in order to overcome youth hunger. In addition, the Club proudly supports the UN’s “Zero Hunger Challenge” to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in all forms by 2030.

However, in order to achieve our goal of feeding 1 million children every day, and ultimately providing a solution for all 15,000 schools across Canada, we need the support of all levels of government – municipal, provincial and federal.

Did you know that Canada is the only country in the G7 that does not offer a national feeding program in schools?

That’s why our ambitious goal is to build a partnership with the federal government by 2020 to eradicate this issue. We want to ensure that all Canadian children have access to a nutritious breakfast. Let’s take part in the Global Movement for #ZeroHunger!

 

Two kids eating and drinking water with blurred background of other children

Today marks the start of a new school year for thousands of young students in Quebec. They will meet their new classmates of the next months, begin building new habits and routines, and start developing trusting relationships with the teachers and school staff who will guide them toward success for the year to come!

During summer break, Breakfast Club of Canada thought about these children. Serving 35,461,913 breakfasts every year in a country as vast as ours is not something that happens overnight. We pour our hearts into preparing and planning for the school year, so that children can focus on succeeding.

We asked school principals, teachers and volunteers who operate breakfast programs to explain what the implementation of a breakfast program entails. From the very start of the implementation of a breakfast program, through the accompaniment of Breakfast Club of Canada, to the official grand opening – this “behind the scenes” video proves that when we work together, we can provide an equal chance of success to ALL children!

 

 

Volunteers with child making breakfast

Every year, Breakfast Club of Canada relies on over 17,500 volunteers across Canada. These individuals are the first point of contact for children who attend their school’s breakfast program.

Day after day, they are present, preparing breakfast in the early morning hours to be ready to serve the children upon their arrival at school. However, breakfast is not their only priority; volunteers are also there to comfort the children, to ask them about their families, or simply to chat and laugh together. Most importantly, they earn the children’s trust.

 

 

“What I love about the club is that, here, the children all come together – it’s like a little family. They are all my children in a way, they’re all in my heart.” – Nadia, Head Volunteer

Adults aren’t the only ones giving their time to the Breakfast Club: other students attending a school where there is a breakfast program have the opportunity to become volunteers. This allows them to gain culinary skills and a sense of responsibility, two things that will come in handy later in life. They are also sensitized to food insecurity, academic success and social and emotional well-being, bringing to light the positive influence they can have on their peers.

 

 

“I started volunteering in grade 5 because I liked seeing kids eat breakfast before school. I knew which kids didn’t eat breakfast, because they complained about how hungry they were all day. I knew that if I was a volunteer there, more of my friends would come eat breakfast at the club!” – Amy, young volunteer

They all come from different generations and backgrounds, but the volunteers all have two things in common: a big heart and a dependable alarm clock! Some volunteer as a family, others on their own. Some have 2 hours to give per week, others come once a month. The Club adapts to the availability of the volunteers, and understands scheduling challenges and the efforts volunteers make to give back to their community. In return, the volunteers get to see smiling faces every morning as the children line up and see the meal that was lovingly prepared for them!

Are you interested in volunteering at a breakfast club near you? Complete this online form!*

We thank all our present (and future) volunteers for their precious help!

* PLEASE NOTE THAT, FOR THE TIME BEING, VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE IN QUEBEC ONLY.

 

Children hugging a woman

Today, Breakfast Club of Canada celebrates women! Women who wake up before dawn to take a few minutes to work out before the morning routine starts. Women who put their careers aside to care for their children. Women who work all day long only to start their second shift when they get home in the evening, taking care of their family in the home they built. Women who are volunteers in breakfast clubs, ensuring thousands of children have the energy they need to learn every day. And our two vice-presidents who work with passion and devotion every day to allow as many children as possible to reach their full potential.

 

Women play a big part in our organization, representing 83% of the staff. The same trend prevails in school nutrition programs, which are often run by women (teachers, cooks, monitors, volunteers, etc.) who have access to tools, support and capacity development opportunities. It is not uncommon for many of these social leaders to access higher levels of employment or re-enter the labor market.

By alleviating the morning routine, Breakfast Club of Canada promotes a healthy work-life balance. This viewpoint is shared by many of the participants in the Global Child Nutrition Forum who reported that school nutrition programs promote gender equality.

We would like to thank all the women who are instrumental to our organization and contribute to the well-being of children.

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

 

 

Children sitting around a cafeteria table talking

It’s a shocking fact that 1 in 4 Canadian children start their day hungry, meaning more than a million kids don’t have access to a healthy meal before they go to school. This would be unacceptable anywhere, but in a prosperous country like Canada, this is unimaginable. The time for action is now.

Breakfast programs in our schools have a tremendous impact on a child’s life, on school communities and on families. By providing access to a nutritious meal to our children as they start their day, they learn more easily, and have the chance to develop their full potential.

The 2019 Federal Budget included an unfunded commitment to a National School Food Program. While this commitment is a promising step, without funding the promise is empty and children across the country are kept waiting.

With the federal election fast approaching, we don’t need just a campaign promise, we need action.

Let’s not forget that Canada remains the only country in the G7 that does not have a federally funded school nutrition program.

As the school year comes to an end, our team at Breakfast Club of Canada and our field partners across the country are calling on the government to immediately provide core funding for a National School Food Program to ensure our kids have access to a healthy meal when they return to class in September.

As a nation, we are asking you to stand with us and share our call to action to send a message to the government that our kids can’t wait any longer. With your help, we can ensure that no child starts their day on an empty stomach.

Together, we can make history in our country and make a sustained difference in the lives of children across Canada.

The time is now, their time is now!

Daniel Germain
President and Founder of Breakfast Club of Canada

Adult and child holding hands

Breakfast programs: a great source of motivation for kids!

A breakfast program provides kids with more than just a nutritious meal at the start of the school day. It also has a positive effect on their families’ morning routines. With the first day of school rapidly approaching, many parents are happy and relieved that their children will once again be spending a portion of each weekday morning with the Club.

“It’s a wonderful idea,” says one mother, whose 9-year-old attends Armand-Lavergne School. “And it makes our mornings as a family so much more pleasant.” She is not the only one who feels that way.

According to a study conducted by Breakfast Club of Canada in partnership with HEC Montréal’s marketing department, 75% of parents asked felt that their mornings had become less stressful and easier to manage since their child joined a breakfast program. A full 50% of respondents said that their child did not eat at home because they weren’t hungry, wanted to sleep more or ran out of time. Parents also noticed that their children were coming home with a taste for new foods. The Club makes a point of varying its menus to include less common food items, allowing students to broaden their palates.

Parents aren’t the only ones looking forward to the start of breakfast programs. Kids are excited too.

Amina, a former Club member and volunteer, says that “it’s a lot more than putting breakfast on the table. It’s more about having a safe place to go in your community and it doesn’t matter why you need breakfast or why you’re coming to the Breakfast Club. All that matters is that you’re there, you have your breakfast that you need and you have a loving place you can go to, a safe environment, a welcoming environment.”

A Quebec boy who volunteers in his breakfast program says that, for him, “it’s like a little family, because we’re here every morning and we eat breakfast together.”

“Every school should have [a breakfast program],” declared the mother of a 6-year-old at Saint-Zotique School. We do our utmost to serve communities and listen to our members. We work hard to give as many children as possible access to a breakfast program.

Our heartfelt thanks go to all the parents and children who place their trust in us every morning.

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Chairs stacked up on desks with a blurred background of a classroom

Excitement is in the air as the first day of school approaches! For the kids, of course, but also for the staff. And there’s no better time for us to show our appreciation for the teachers, school administrators and other employees who engage with students every day and play a key role in the success of their schools’ breakfast programs. Some open the doors and set up the room, even before the volunteers arrive. Others greet the kids or chat with them while they eat. Still others work on the behind-the-scenes logistics of running this sort of program in an educational institution. Each person’s contribution is essential to the success of the program and the kids who rely on it.

“A girl in Grade 2 sees our breakfast program as a home now, where she is respected, belongs and taken care of,” explains Sarah Dropko, a teacher at Manitoba’s Hazelridge School. “In the past, the little girl would come to school tired, hungry, and unwilling to focus and learn. Now, she comes in each morning knowing she is going to have breakfast and friends to sit and talk to.”

At Lawrence Sinclair Memorial School in Manitoba, teacher Sharon Hansen says that the students “are withdrawn because of empty bellies. We, as a school staff, are very grateful that Breakfast Club of Canada is here provide the funds to feed our students so that they can enjoy the day in school.”

According to Stasia Uhlmann, a teacher at West Central High School in Alberta, “a 15-year-old boy with autism was drawn to our breakfast table, and for the first few months of school he’d just watch and shake his head if he was offered anything. Over time, he became more and more willing to come to get a piece of fruit or a yogurt, and now, he is not only a regular attender, but also volunteers every morning.”

Many educators have seen the benefits of a breakfast program in their schools.

Samantha Johnson teaches nutrition at Chilliwack Middle School in B.C. She reports seeing “a vast improvement in student focus and retention in class because students have been able to fuel their body with breakfast.”

At Henderson Elementary School in B.C., teacher Nicole Burnett has found that “the children are much calmer and better prepared for their day when they sit down and enjoy breakfast together before the day begins.”

Of 41 schools surveyed by the Club six months after the launch of their breakfast program, a full 50% saw an improvement in attentiveness in class. The number of interventions needed to address behavioural issues also dropped by 71%.

Everyone at Breakfast Club of Canada would like to thank you for all your hard work and commitment to your school’s breakfast program. To all teachers, school administrators and other staff members, we wish you a wonderful back-to-school season.

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Pinwheel with blurred background of a classroom

For the Club, the back-to-school season is an important time of year. After a summer dedicated to developing new food distribution routes and updating the documentation on our breakfast programs, fall is when it all comes together.

A total of 243,521 Canadian children will soon be welcomed with open arms by kind-hearted volunteers in 1,809 breakfast programs across the country.

“Every Club employee is working hard to ensure that our kids can eat a healthy breakfast each and every morning. Even though we work at this all year round, the lead-up to September is always a little frantic. It’s quite a rush, getting everything in place for the volunteers to greet the kids they’ll be nurturing all year along. We wish everyone a wonderful first day back and year full of achievements, big and small!” – Marie-Josée Lapratte

The support the Club provides can vary depending on the school context. Through food deliveries, financial support, training and/or knowledge sharing, the Club strives to provide each school with the tools it needs to make sure participants get the most out of their breakfast program.

All breakfast programs receive a similar level of support as they prepare to reopen. We get in touch with the coordinators to ensure they have everything they need: hand-washing posters, food allergy factsheets, registration forms and more. Obviously, we will be paying special attention to the 166 programs that are new this year. It’s also the time for updates, including new guidelines for menu planning in light of the latest changes to Canada’s Food Guide in January 2019.

Over the summer, food partnerships are renegotiated to accommodate the breakfast programs and participants that have recently joined the BCC family. It’s around this time of year that we start accepting food donations for Quebec again at our distribution centre in Boucherville. Every week, some 100,000 pounds of food is shipped out from our warehouse. We also coordinate distribution chains in a number of Canadian cities to help make fresh and nutritious food available in more isolated communities, such as La Loche, Saskatchewan.

In other words, our entire network is abuzz with activity and working together to ensure that the start of the school year is a successful one.

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3 children playing hopscotch on a school playground

On World Mental Health Day, we wanted to share this touching story with you from a school in New Brunswick:

“There was a young lady who wrote on the bathroom stall walls that she was lonely, that nobody cared about her, that she had no friends. Many students wrote back in response encouraging her that she had value. But she still had no one to hang out or develop a friendship with. This young lady was introduced to me and we adopted her into our breakfast program family. She has volunteered every day since and has become completely committed to serving in this capacity.

We often think of how this program helps the kids who benefit from the food, but we sometimes overlook how important it can be in the life of the volunteers who serve. The 45 minutes to an hour that we spend together every morning prepping and serving has helped to foster a sense of belonging, purpose and pride in each of my volunteers. I cherish this program more every day. It is a very powerful opportunity that we provide, and this young lady instantly gained 12 friends in one morning!”

Visit the United Nations website to learn more about World Mental Health Day.