Did you know that in Canada, one in five children arrive at school on an empty stomach? That risk is even higher for immigrants, newcomers and aboriginal communities.
According to the Breakfast Club of Canada, nearly one million Canadian children get nothing to eat before they go to school in the morning. In Yukon, we don’t know how many kids arrive at school hungry but we do know that during the 2016/2017 school year approximately 312,131 breakfasts, lunches or snacks were served averaging 1836 a day (Yukon Food for Learning Association 2018). For reference, last year the student population was 5344 kids.
To learn, kids need to eat.
To play, kids need to eat.
To be their best selves, kids need to eat.
Breakfast is brain food. According to the Breakfast Club of Canada approximately 60 per cent of learning happens before lunch, making it even more important to get some food in their bellies first thing in the morning.
Healthy food goes even further. A balanced diet can help:
- Improve behaviour and concentration.
- Improve social skills, increase self-confidence and help students to positively interact with both other students and adults.
- Increase academic performance.
- Improve attendance.
- Decrease the risk of chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.
- Decrease mental health problems by improving self-esteem and decreasing anxiety.
Just think about yourself when you are running on an empty stomach. I certainly get grumpy and can’t function well, or in a word: hangry.
Here in the Yukon, we have an organization that helps kids get the food they need to learn. The Yukon Food for Learning Association finds funding to give to schools so that they can provide food for their students. It is a program that has been happening since 1996. In the Yukon, we have 29 schools participating in the program.
Each school does it a little differently. Some schools have a breakfast program, some provide lunches, while others have snack baskets in the corner of their classrooms or at the office — but they all provide all students, particularly those who might not have access to nutritious food, the opportunity to eat.
But right now, the Yukon Food for Learning Association isn’t able to provide all of the funding that schools need. The association has just launched their Eat Right, Stay Bright campaign to help raise more money that will go directly towards purchasing food for kids.
If you are able to, please consider donating. As a registered charity, the Yukon Food for Learning Association can provide donors with a charitable tax receipt for any donations greater than $10.
To donate or learn more, please go to: www.YukonFoodforLearning.ca/donate.