Wednesday, May 27, 2009

School breakfast program started by Canadian Living editors is spread thin

A program to feed hungry children, begun 15 years ago by a group of editors from Canadian Living magazine is finding itself spread thin because of increasing demand and decreasing funding.

Founded on the belief that hungry children have more difficulty learning, Breakfast for Learning began in 1992 and since then has grown into a national movement that has helped feed 1.5 million children across Canada.

It boasts 30,000 volunteers, 3,100 nutrition programs and that it has served millions of healthy breakfasts, lunches and snacks to more than 360,000 students across the country.

Carol Dombrow, a dietitian and nutritional consultant to the program says the program is feeling the pinch in these economic times. She told Judy Creighton of the Canadian Press:
‘We’ve been told that in British Columbia the numbers of children being served is up 25 to 100 per cent in the last couple of months, so the numbers are increasing but the funding is getting spread thinner.’’
In a Toronto school where she volunteers, serving 500 students, she says the Ontario government funding in the last four years has dropped almost 50%.
‘‘It is one of the identified schools in a very poor area,’’ she adds. ‘‘Four years ago they received $77,000 and now they get only $40,000.’’
Canadian Living and its parent company Transcontinental are founders and patrons of the program and the list of individual leadership donors continues to include familiar names from the Canadian Living masthead, including food writers Elizabeth Baird and Anne Lindsay.

The program partners in Quebec with Club des petits déjeuners du Québec and in Newfoundland and Labrador with the Kids Eat Smart Foundation.

The 2008 annual report of Breakfast for Learning shows that the program has total revenue of $5.4 million, of which $4.5 million are donations and grants.


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