PHOTO: Darian Meilleur likes to stop by Breakfast Club, with yogurt a favourite. Students can get healthy foods to start the day. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)
PHOTO: Meaghan Laycock is one of the students who volunteers at Breakfast Club. The school greenhouse will supply the food program with fresh greens in the future. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)
Smoothie Wednesday is proving very popular and lots of kids keep watch for the special item on the menu Fridays at the Brookswood Secondary Breakfast Club.
Now in its second year, the morning meal program serves about 100 kids each morning.
Line Therrien and Kelley Nelson oversee the program with lots of help from parents, teachers, local churches and students.
The kids can pick up yogurt, eggs, cereal, juice and fruit but the most popular is the bagels. And since these are teens, the program goes through a lot of food. It costs about $8,000 annually.
“I do shop around,” Therrien said.
And the program also benefits with big donations groups such as Breakfast Clubs of Canada, Minute Maid, Sources Food Bank, grateful parents and others.
On Oct. 6 the school was a local site celebrating Breakfast Day in Canada, with local dignitaries stopping by and volunteers from Breakfast Clubs of Canada and Coca-Cola lending a hand.
Organizers also work to ensure food doesn’t go to waste. Leftover bananas go in the freezer to be used for smoothies. Leftover perishables go to the lunch room.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University helped set up the school greenhouse which is growing greens such as kale, that will be used in the breakfast program.
The program has several benefits. The kids go to class with filled stomachs so they can concentrate on school, and staff have reported fewer problems and incidents.
The breakfast club also helps ensure the kids are at school ahead of the bell so there’s fewer students late for class.
“I’ve noticed a lot of kids coming out of their shell,” Therrien noted.
Kids who wouldn’t typically mingle in the halls will eat together.
“They feel it’s a safe place to be,” Nelson said.
She volunteers through Brookswood Church and said it was easy to get church volunteers for this program.
“I think the kids really appreciate people from the community taking time to help,” Nelson said.
The program started last school year but has grown. Staff checked other programs to see what worked and what didn’t.
There’s no means test or check on family income. The Breakfast Club is open to any student.
For some students, it’s about lack of resources but for others, it’s about being rushed in the mornings and families being on the go. Others like the opportunity to break bread with friends.
Grade 11 student Meaghan Laycock, who helps out at the breakfast club, said there’s another factor for high school students.
“Everyone’s really stressed about school so they want to get extra sleep in,” she added.