It’s 7:45 am and the smell of fresh pancakes, fruit, and syrup invites a group of elementary school students into the small kitchen off of the side of the gymnasium. Buzzing with excitement, the students politely form a single file line and choose from the spread of breakfast options for the day.
While many of us enjoy a delicious breakfast before arriving at school or work, this is not the reality for everyone in our city.
The EducationMatters team was recently invited to tour the Fuel for School program at a Calgary elementary school, to see one of the ways that student hunger is being tackled in the public education system.
The Fuel for School program provides healthy breakfasts to students who would otherwise go hungry each morning. The program runs at 20 elementary schools across Calgary, with each school serving between 20 to 60 meals on a daily basis.
As one breakfast program supervisor says, “The combination of free food and free smiles and love are a great way to start the day.”
The meals provide opportunities for positive interactions between staff and students, but also result in increased attendance and a greater awareness of healthy eating habits among students.
Most importantly, for some of Calgary’s most disadvantaged students, the Fuel for School program provides them with a healthy meal to start their day, which many would not have access to at home.
A nutritious breakfast improves the health and well-being of students, getting them ready to learn and better able to concentrate on school work. The Fuel for School program ensures that more students in Calgary, regardless of the conditions at home, have the basic energy they need to power their learning.
Judging by the smiles on the student’s faces, as they gather around bowls of cereal, bananas, and glasses of juice, the program is clearly a highlight of the day.
As the EducationMatters team prepares to leave, a line up for second helpings forms. However, this line is different; staying true to the polite atmosphere of the program, student’s line up to the side, ensuring that those who have not been served yet are able to enjoy their breakfast first.