Bishop McNally High School in Calgary has had a breakfast club in its cafeteria for four years now. On average, 300 of its 1,300 students use the program every morning. Cereal, fruit and juice are provided and twice a week it offers a hot breakfast. School principal, Deana Helton says the program has made a significant difference to the students at her school.
For acceptance into the program, Helton says, it looks at a school’s student demographic, but “we find that it isn’t just the kids who can’t have breakfast, it is also the kids that don’t eat breakfast, that use the program.” Perhaps they get up late, or they have a long commute, so they simply don’t have time to grab something. Other times, there isn’t any food in the cupboard. “If we have students going into their first period with full bellies we know they are going to be far more productive,” she says.
Lores Tomé, Director, Communication & Corporate Affairs, Kellogg Canada says the company has partnered with Breakfast Club of Canada and donated $100,000 to fund new high school breakfast clubs, support existing high school breakfast clubs and help teens from coast-to-coast achieve their full potential.
This donation is in addition to the more than $3 million and 27 million servings of cereal and snacks the company has provided to breakfast clubs and food banks over the past ten years. Through this partnership, Kellogg has helped to feed more than 167,000 kids in almost 1,500 breakfast clubs across Canada.
Above and beyond its financial and product donations, Kellogg provides surveys to collect relevant data. A recent poll found 32% of high school students have been distracted by hunger during an important test or exam. While 79% say they are tired or have less energy, are less focused or feel nauseous when they don't eat breakfast. A report not provided by Kellogg but by the Toronto District School Board, called Feeding the Future, shows that high school students who eat breakfast on most days are nearly 20% more likely to graduate than those who regularly miss breakfast.
Lisa Clowery, national corporate relations director for Breakfast Club of Canada says the program has been around for approximately 21 years. “We started in Quebec and in 2005 we branched out to the rest of Canada.”
Outside of Quebec, Breakfast Club of Canada helps to fund the programs along with food partners such as Kellogg and Coca-Cola. The companies can provide money to run the program or products or coupons and vouchers.
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“We work with schools that are high risk,” Clowery says. Schools come to the program’s website to apply. After applying the application goes through a grant review committee. Once the program is in a school, it is completely universal. So every student has access.
According to Clowery, around 20% of its programs are in high schools as opposed to elementary schools. “The need is there and probably even more so because high school students, they need more nourishment. People assume if you are a teen you can make your breakfast, but there are many reasons why these programs are necessary.”
Companies such as Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid, have advertised that it support this program on its packaging. “This makes a difference on the consumer side because you can say x number of dollars are donated when you purchase this product,” says Clowery. “People often feel compelled to want to help a charity so for that side of things. I have heard from different companies that they can see a difference in their sales when they are doing a promotion.”
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The Kellogg's Survey also found that almost three-quarters of high school students either don't have a breakfast club in their school, or they don't know if there is one in their school. One out of five of these students says they would make use of a breakfast club if it were available.