No child should go to school hungry, but in Canada one in three go without a daily breakfast. Why? They are helpless victims of poverty.
The Salvation Army recognizes that poverty is a critical issue and that all people at all times should have enough food for an active, healthy life.
In 2013, from coast to coast, The Salvation Army served 2.6 million meals to vulnerable individuals and families and in more than 600 schools, 100,000 children were provided with healthy meals. Good nutrition not only helps children focus better in school, it reduces anxiety caused by embarrassment or shame and improves their overall physical health.
Salvation Army Quebec’s Innovative Breakfast Program
The Salvation Army in Shawinigan, Que., developed a breakfast program for kids aged five to 12. Healthy Families met for the first time on February 8, 2014, and moving forward will offer delicious food and an environment for learning and fun activities, two Saturdays a month.
“The Salvation Army exists in the community to fill a need,” says Captain Melisa Tardiff. “A weekend breakfast will ensure that every child has something to put in their stomach and has the chance to spend quality time with other children.
“Healthy Families is one of the very few free activities for children on weekends,” continues Tardiff. “On weekdays, there are programs available to ensure kids are eating breakfast but there is nothing in place for the weekend. This program does this and also allows a little free time for the parents.”
The goal of the initiative is to provide a safe and warm environment for children to go on the weekend and eat a nutritious and balanced meal. Kids will learn how to cook healthy meals, discover the value of fruits and vegetables with a dietician and enjoy sports, fun and other activities.
“If it wasn’t for Salvation Army programs like Healthy Families I might go hungry,” says 12-year-old Misty. “Sometimes we have nothing in our refrigerator.”