Breakfast program thrives in Quesnel Schools

School District column speaks to the importance of the breakfast program in Quesnel schools

The student volunteers that help make this program a succes.

The student volunteers that help make this program a succes.

Most of us have heard that breakfast is thought to be the most important meal of the day. Breakfast fuels the body to provide energy, and helps with concentration and problem solving ability for the rest of the day. It is especially critical for students attending school to start their day with a nutritious breakfast so they can stay focused and attentive to their learning.

Unfortunately, many students skip breakfast before going to school. Some cite a lack of time, or do not feel hungry before leaving for school. Sadly, for other students, a nutritious breakfast just isn’t available at home. We are fortunate, that for many who need it, breakfast is available at school.

During the 2011-2012 school year, approximately 75,000 breakfasts were served to Quesnel students through one of our nine school-based breakfast programs. This school year, the count is already more than 22,000 as of the end of December. The average cost of each breakfast is $1.50, (or approximately $112,500 last year) and is provided though the generous support and efforts of many; school-based fundraisers, community fundraisers, individual and corporate donations, support from service clubs, the media, local business sponsorships – the list is amazing and continues to grow.

We are also fortunate to have the support of the Quesnel Partnership for Student Nutrition (a society formed with the express purpose of promoting and fundraising for breakfast programs.) The Quesnel Partnership secured a significant grant from Breakfast Clubs of Canada a number of years ago that has evolved into a unique relationship with that organization. Breakfast Clubs of Canada continues to provide an annual cash grant and significant grocery contributions, that along with community support helps to sustain Quesnel breakfast programs.

School breakfast programs provide much more than a nutritious breakfast. They can help to provide a real sense of connectedness between the student and the school through interactions with school staff, breakfast coordinators, volunteers and fellow students. There is truly a sense of school “family” when you are in the breakfast room and that positive energy can go a long way to shaping a student’s day.

Many students, both elementary and secondary have stepped forward to volunteer in their schools’ programs and derive great satisfaction from doing so.

Several secondary students have returned to their elementary schools and continued to volunteer there, maintaining rich and positive connections with that school community as well.

Breakfast Clubs of Canada is in the process of developing a national training standard for programs across Canada that will include nutrition, safety and training around how to create a welcoming and inclusive breakfast environment.

We are proud that Quesnel was chosen to be the national pilot site for this training. Representatives from Breakfast Clubs of Canada met with breakfast coordinators here, reviewed some of the modules and got feedback from them.

The Quesnel team shared many positive examples of how they already provide welcoming, positive environments for the students who participate in their programs.

We thank you again for your continued support.

It will ensure long-term sustainability for these important programs in our schools.

Cynthia Bernier is director of instruction – curriculum and Sue-Ellen Miller is superintendent of schools.