Food for thought
Breakfast program keeps students going through the day
Napoleon Bonaparte once stated that ... “An army moves on its stomach.”
Napoleon realized that an adequate supply of food meant strong troops and power. Without proper sustenance, a military unit cannot function efficiently.
While my own body is far from a well-oiled military machine, I can certainly relate to Napoleon’s train of thought. Unless I am fasting for blood work, I cannot ever remember leaving the house without a good breakfast.
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast kickstarts your metabolism and helps you burn calories throughout the day. It gives you the energy you need to get things done and helps you focus at work or at school.
Some of our students in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board arrive at school without the proper nourishment to sustain them through their school activities. Thirty one per cent of elementary school students and 62 per cent of secondary school students do not eat a nutritious breakfast before heading out to school in the morning.
The reasons are complex. Some students catch early busses and this leaves them in a time crunch in the morning. Then there are the students who don’t like to eat as soon as they get up. Sadly, there are students who live in situations where a good breakfast is not readily available.
For whatever the reason, all students benefit from eating breakfast at the beginning of the school day.
The school breakfast program provides the perfect solution. It is available to all our students and there is no charge.
Many of our students who participate in this program are seeking more than food. Just a good chance to relax with friends, have a chat and to discuss what’s going on in their lives.
Providing our children with the opportunity to have the best start to their day is the mandate of the breakfast program.
This program began way back in 1999 when the “Nutrition for Learning” committee came together to address the child nutrition issues in our local communities. This group was made up of staff, administrators and community members.
One of the more vocal members was the late Sister Peggy Butts. During her term in the Canadian Senate, she was able to secure federal funding to start breakfast programs in 10 of our local schools.
This small pilot project has now evolved into a breakfast and/or snack program in 100 per cent of our schools.
Wouldn’t Sister Peggy be pleased to see how her germ of an idea has grown.
When children are learning and growing, they need fuel for their minds and bodies. Educational research has shown that there is a strong link between nutrition and learning outcomes. The research findings are evident in the classroom. Children who eat well perform better. Children who do not eat enough throughout the day are more tired, tend to have a shorter attention span and are not reaching their maximum potential at school.
The majority of the money that is required to finance the program, up to 70 per cent, is fundraised in the local community. Many of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board staff donate directly through payroll deductions. Nourish Nova Scotia comes up with the other 30 per cent. It costs $1.50 to feed a child breakfast. The $22,500 raised last year paid for 17,333 breakfasts. Just imagine all the kids who had a better start to their day because their tummies were not growling ... it’s as simple as that.
The nutritionist in charge of the program is Debbie Madore. From time to time, you will see a picture of her in this newspaper as she receives a cheque from a community group. Debbie and her army of volunteers organize a golf tournament every spring to raise muchneeded funds.
If any of this information has peaked your interest in donating or volunteering, contact Debbie at 902-562-6130 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I can assure you that she would love to hear from you!
Students, left to right, Maggie Hillier, Sophie Bugden and Emma Budgen, wait as Tanya Bugden, left, and Shelley Hillier supply them with a healthy breakfast thanks to the school breakfast program at Sydney River Elementary recently.