Fueling growing bodies, developing young minds

School breakfast programs in Saskatchewan a sunrise success

Silence that growling stomach, and you’ll likely turn that frown upside down.

That’s what representatives at a pair of southern Saskatchewan schools have found recently after establishing a free breakfast programs for their students. During the 2014-15 scholastic year, Stoughton Central School and Arcola Community School served up the most important meal of the day to their students, with financial support from Enbridge, and continued to see encouraging results.

“There is no doubt this program made a difference in our school,” says Carleen Daniels, the former community education liaison at Stoughton Central School who now works with a nearby First Nations school. “I just really can’t say enough about the success of this program.

“It wasn’t always easy, because it required a significant ongoing commitment, but when you see the positive changes in the school and in the students, that’s all the motivation you need.”

Research has shown that school breakfast programs, while fueling growing bodies, also develop young minds by significantly improving cognitive abilities, especially among young children. Research has also suggested that schools with free universal breakfast programs also seem to have fewer behavioral problems.

For students at Arcola Community School, in Arcola, SK, the breakfast program ended up being extended in 2014-15 to provide access to healthy snacks throughout the day, says Dan Graf, community education liaison and students services counsellor.

“We started with a small grab-and-go breakfast program, but we quickly realized it was well-used when we left it out all day,” says Graf, who adds that Enbridge funding helped make the program more inclusive as well. “Thanks to the additional funds, we were able to offer it to everyone and not just the kids we thought maybe needed it most, and as more kids began using it, the stigma disappeared.”

About a third of the 200 students at the K-to-12 Stoughton Central School, in Stoughton, SK, participated in the 2014-15 breakfast program, with notable improvements in student behavior and even stronger connections being built between teachers and students.

“We wanted to involve the entire school and take the stigma away from the program to create an atmosphere of community. We didn’t want our kids that do live in poverty to feel like this was just another handout,” says Daniels.

Enbridge believes in enhancing lives in the communities near our pipelines and facilities, and supporting organizations and programs that offer social, cultural and educational enrichment. With school fall back in session for the fall term, we’re following up our $5,000 grants to each of the Arcola Community School and Stoughton Central School 2014-15 breakfast programs with continued support in 2015-16.

“There are kids who just aren’t getting the food they need and this definitely impacts their performance and their emotional and mental well-being,” notes Jeff Yanko, a Regina-based public affairs advisor with Enbridge. “Helping schools to meet this need is something that we love to get behind.”