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Feeding children’s potential

| Human rights, Poverty, Social Justice

The COVID-19 crisis has increased awareness around the very real issue of student hunger. The pandemic has exposed how many children and families live each and every day unsure where their next meal will come from. Children who depend on their schools for food found them suddenly shuttered. Even with this unprecedented challenge, the Breakfast Club of Canada has worked to make sure that our most vulnerable are nourished, but too many remain hungry.

In Canada, even before the crisis, more than one million children do not have access to a nutritious meal every morning. Before schools closed, Breakfast Club of Canada was reaching over 240,000 children and youth daily in close to 2,000 school breakfast programs; we are very much aware that we couldn’t have done it without the collaboration and support of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation. By working hand in hand with you and with the trust of school communities (principals, teachers and support staff), parents, school districts and community organizations, and with the contribution of numerous financial and food partners, as well as governments, we are able to contribute in nurturing so many children’s potential. Many communities also created their own meal programs and we are happy to be a part of this network, supporting children so that they can learn and grow.

As many of you can attest, these programs are much more than a meal. For children, it’s the sense of community fostered by being warmly welcomed every morning at school by caring adults and the pleasure of sharing a meal with friends. For parents, it’s being able to rely on a trusted network, and a way to contribute to their children’s daily lives through volunteering. For teachers, it’s a way to ensure all students have the energy to learn, every day. Over the years, schools have shared with us the many positive ways in which a breakfast program helps their students thrive: from improvements in children’s health and attention span to fewer behavioral incidents, students really get the best of their education with their bellies full.

In the past months, we have all been affected by this unprecedented pandemic. While schools were closed to ensure everyone’s safety, the Club never stopped its operations. Several adjustments were made, solutions put in place, and we worked with hundreds of schools and community organizations across the country to ensure that, in this period of uncertainty, the nutrition of children and families did not create additional stress. In fact, we are now reaching over 525,000 children and youth everyday. It is in this collaborative mindset that we want to continue to move forward: because together, we can ensure that no child experiences food insecurity. You are all an integral part of this support network that makes a difference for thousands of students. We’re happy to be by your side, helping children grow and develop to their full potential, and with your help and support, we can ensure that many more go to school on a full stomach.

We believe that if we continue to strengthen these programs and use what we have learned during these difficult times, a universal National School Food Program could become a reality in the near future. We invite all teachers to be a part of the movement in raising awareness of the very pressing need for such a program. Together, we can make it happen. To help us spread the positive impacts of everyone’s involvement in children’s lives, we would like to invite you to join our social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Daniel GermainPresident and FounderBreakfast Club of Canada