For the Research Team:Community involvement / Food education: / Culturally appropriate / Student participation / Food education
Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre, Port Hardy BC / YES / YES / YES / Yes / Yes
Here are examples of reports from some of SKYC’s program partners which display innovative and exemplary program activities and outcomes:
1) Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre, Port Hardy BC
“Recently, Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre was fortunate to receive 45 fish from Gwa’sala’Nakwaxda’xw Nations for our program. Students canned the salmon and froze the remainder of it. Our students learned about processing and cooking fish in a traditional way, as well as mentoring elementary students. This fish will be used in our program for feeding students. As well, our students cater to raise funds for our program. They will be able to use the fish for catering. The elders will enjoy being served by the younger people from our local communities and happy that the fish is being used for a good purpose.
2) Balcarres, School, Balcarres SK
“The primary needs of our students is getting food and getting fed properly. Many families cannot afford healthy choices or do not know what foods are not as healthy as others. Our staff notices a change in students’ behavior and classroom participation when they are fed at school. Unfortunately for some of our students, the lunch we provide is the best meal they get all day and sometimes the only meal they get all day.
Our Primary Building has some problems at the moment, so all students have been moved to the main building. As a result of the lack of space, all teachers and students have to eat in their homeroom. With the students not loitering in the hall, they are not able to hid the fact that they have no lunch; our lunches have just increased by about 5 per day as a result of having identified students who were not telling us they didn’t have lunch.”
3) Greenholm Junior Middle School, Toronto ON
“As an administrator in an inner city, with students of low socio-economic backgrounds, you can’t even imagine what a simple breakfast program means! It is an opportunity for children to have a healthy breakfast, complete with caring adults who listen eagerly to their issues, concerns, and daily challenges. It is an opportunity for me as an administrator to touch base with students about whom I may have concerns. It gives us a chance to talk in a safe place, as if they were in their kitchen at home having breakfast. It makes someone like me, who does not teach them in the classroom, seem normal as we eat breakfast together.
For students living in a nearby shelter for battered women, it is a chance for their children to be safe at their school. They come early in the morning so that their moms can go to work, or seek employment, or deal with the challenges of their unique domestic situations. For those students, it gives them a sense of normalcy where they are welcome to have breakfast with friends and classmates and no one knows where they live.”
4) Ruth Hooker School, Selkirk, MB
“Many students eat alone, with older siblings, and don’t enjoy the sense of family at home when they have a meal. The breakfast program allows them to experience the sharing and sense of belonging and community share din the breakfast room each morning.
Students who help out and assist with the ‘serving’ element of the program is phenomenal. Many impoverished children never have a chance to ‘give’ back to a cause, and at our school this is an easy one for them to fulfill. The pride and personal joy they experience is seen on their faces each day. They are often deprived of such moments in their personal lives that they really enjoy fulfilling in this role in the school.
Students are less agitated because they are not hungry. They are able to get along better with peers and deal with challenging situations. They are happier and more interactive. Students are able to interact with other students over a meal which is excellent bonding time that they might not get elsewhere.
As the guidance counsellor of Ruth Hooker School, I feel I Have a unique perspective to offer on this issue. I see many kids in the course of my day that suffer due to poverty, neglect and trauma. They often come to school hungry and stressed. What I have witnessed in the breakfast room this year is warmth, a sense of community that is truly astonishing. I see kids gaining life skills such as food preparation and cleaning. I see kids filled to the brim with pride when they cook something delicious or when they receive positive feedback for assisting a younger student. I see lonely kids smiling and making connections. This program is not just about providing food for children in poverty. This program gives our kids a sense of community and well0-bgin. They may leave the breakfast room full of food, but also full of hope and the knowledge that someday cares for them.”
5) Brandon’s Food for Thought Program, Brandon, MB
“This program provides a menu built on nutrition and is open to any student who has come to school hungry for whatever reason. The students attending our program are not asked why they are there but greeted with a smile and told ‘see you tomorrow’ and ‘have a great day!’
The program provides nutritional food that gives students energy and strength to get through the day without getting grumpy or having mood swings because they have not eaten. We have slo prevented students from stealing lunches within the school or leaving the school to seek out food on the street. The students’ disruptive behavior has lessened and the attendance in each school has increased significantly because students want to come to school, to the program.
The breakfast sites promote fairness, kindness and a sense of being welcome to something bigger than just eating but building friendships and trust within the school and the small community around them.
Our program also offers an opportunity for all students to come early to take part in the preparation of breakfast and the cleanup. The students have an opportunity to work with school staff, volunteers who act as mentors for these students in the program. This builds a relationship between adult and child that is not intimidating and honest conversation can be developed which often leads to inspiring kids to do more and better in school and encourages students to seek help from adults if needed.
In our educational component we teach students how to cook, learn portion control, serving different foods, appropriate behavior and manners. The students receive nutrition education on a variety of healthy foods, learn about the food groups, they learn about eating fresh food verses packaged food and also how to read labels on different foods which allows them to learn about unwanted sugars and fats that are unhealthy and what foods are healthy. This teachers kids about obesity and poor activity levels at school and home because of the foods they eat.
Our program is free of charge and help in improving family relationships by reducing some financial stress on parents, reducing some stress on parent-child relationship. This gives students an opportunity to share ideas of nutritional food at home and help parents think about food to have at home that the kids will actually enjoy eating.”
6) Education Foundation of Niagara, “The Hungry Student”, Niagara ON
“The Hungry Student is a project based on learning unit designed to promote healthy living. Students will research healthy inexpensive recipes that they themselves can prepare. They will learn how to set budges, plan menus, get supplies, prepare food, photograph their meals, design a cookbook and market the finished product. They will build the cookbook throughout the semester as their final project that they can market and build into a fundraiser for Alternative Pathways.
Through the process of researching, planning and preparing healthy meals, students will gain knowledge about healthy eating habits. The cookbook will also be a way to evaluate their understanding of healthy eating habits as it will be a student-lead project. The cooperative nature of the Alternative Pathways program has students connecting with local church groups, promoting community building.”
Show Kids You Care is an independent federally registered non-profit organization
Leading Canada’s National Network of Meal Programs for kids living in poverty in Canada.
15 Westney Rd N, PO Box 31089 Ajax ON L1T 3V2
1-800-447-2458 416-287-0385 Reg #824449821 RC0001