Food for thought

Break­fast pro­gram keeps stu­dents go­ing through the day

Cape Breton Post - - COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS - Yvonne Kennedy Yvonne Kennedy is a re­tired teacher and a mem­ber of the Cape Bre­ton-Vic­to­ria Re­gional School Board. She lives in Homeville and can be con­tacted at mlkenned@sea­side.ns.ca

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 dmadore@cb­vrsb.ca. I can as­sure you that she would love to hear from you!

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

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