Photo © Courtesy of Breakfast Club of Canada
As the world slowly starts to open up again, the impacts of the pandemic over the past year are still very present. Business closures caused by the pandemic have led to increased unemployment and poverty. More than ever, food insecurity is affecting a growing number of people, and the efforts of organizations to combat this problem are critical.
While we live in a society that needs to protect and nourish its youth, both during this crisis and beyond, Canada remains the only G7 country that does not have a National School Food Program.
Children among the most vulnerable
Food insecurity continues to be a major problem in Canada. The COVID-19 crisis alone has significantly impacted school nutrition programs, causing the demand to double across the country.
“COVID-19 has seriously disrupted the economy and has resulted in numerous layoffs. As we know, putting food on the table is even more difficult than before for many families. Children are among the most vulnerable, and we cannot let hunger stand in their way,” explains Tommy Kulczyk, General Manager of Breakfast Club of Canada.
According to the most recent data on food insecurity and projections related to access to school food programs, it is estimated that close to two million students could potentially experience food insecurity in Canada.
To address the situation, BCC was able to adapt its operations by providing food and funding to schools and community organizations across Canada. In the weeks following the initial lockdown, the Club created an emergency fund with support from the private sector, the general public and government stakeholders. The fund was dedicated to food security initiatives in schools and community organizations.
600 schools on the waiting list
The reach of the organization has since increased from 250,000 students each day to 683,921. The goal of the Breakfast Club of Canada is simple: to put children’s well-being first, allowing them to start the day off right and develop their full potential. For children, having access to a healthy meal to start the day is vital for their cognitive and physical development. Not only can it help reduce stress and improve emotional well-being, but it can also promote academic success.
In these difficult times, the Club’s work is far from done, as it is part of the social safety net that supports thousands of families. And the need keeps growing: over 600 schools are on the waiting list for a breakfast program while the school year is just beginning.
Back-to-school should be an exciting time and a fresh start for students, yet for some children and their families, it remains a significant concern. That’s why BCC is rallying the efforts of everyone to ensure children have access to a healthy breakfast this school year, no matter what Back-to-School looks like in each province.
Find out more about how you can help at breakfastclubcanada.org
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Breakfast programs ensure that all students have reliable access to nutritious food in a safe and supportive environment, in order to positively impact health and learning.