Organization calling on federal government to follow through on a national school food program
WINNIPEG -- It's been said breakfast is the most important meal of the day and more than 100 kids at Nelson McIntyre Collegiate start the day off with that meal.
The school started serving up a nutritious meal program in 2011 with the help of the Breakfast Club of Canada – a not-for-profit organization that works to provide free nutritious breakfasts for schools across the country.
The organization is now calling on the federal government to follow through on its promise to fund a national program.
Nelson McIntyre Collegiate Principal, Charlene Smallwood, said students who start the day with a healthy meal have an easier time concentrating in class.
"It builds this wonderful, beautiful community where they're all together, all eating, all enjoying breakfast. Then they head off to class and they're ready to learn," said Smallwood.
She said when the breakfast program first started, fewer than 30 kids took part, but now the program is feeding close to 100 kids daily.
She noted the club helps prevent poverty from affecting education.
"Of all the influences of poverty, it's the one we do at school if we have the funding."
Daniel Germain, who founded the Breakfast Club of Canada, said he wants to see the federal government follow through on its promise to fund a national program.
"You've done something great last year by putting this in the budget. Let's do the next, let's make sure this doesn't go on the back burner," said Germain.
In its 2019 budget, the federal government promised to launch a national school food program and earmarked money for it, but it hasn't been released.
In a statement to CTV News, the office of the Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development said:
"Our government understands that investing in children means investing in Canada's future. We're engaging with stakeholders across Canada to understand existing school food programs," said the statement.
One of the student volunteers for the breakfast program at Nelson McIntyre Collegiate, Chloe Gate, said having the program in place makes classwork easier.
"You can stay on task when you're fed, rather than having food in the back of your mind," said gate.
The Breakfast Club of Canada works with more than 1,800 schools across the country and reaches roughly 240,000 kids every day.
In Winnipeg alone, Germain said there are 62 schools on a waiting list for the program.
-- with files from CTV's Devon McKendrick