School food program in Calgary appeals for support as need ‘skyrockets’ during COVID-19 pandemic

A campaign is on to give thousands of Calgary kids a much-needed boost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s all about making sure an empty stomach doesn’t get in the way of a good day at school.

One participating location is Light of Christ School in the city’s northeast.

Read more: Food For Thought: Breakfast program continues to need help feeding school kids

Teacher Leticia Sheldon was busy there Monday morning, loading up small plastic baskets of food to distribute to classrooms.

“Lots of fruits and vegetables,” Sheldon said. “And we have grains.”

Student volunteers pick up the food baskets to drop off to their fellow students.

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“Because there are some kids that didn’t have breakfast in the morning,” said Grade 6 student volunteer Kokob Kifle. “So if they don’t have breakfast, they can’t focus in class.”

The food distribution is part of a program run by The Breakfast Club, a national charity that’s now feeding almost 5,000 kids in 60 Calgary schools.

“During the COVID pandemic, we’ve definitely seen an increase in need, an increase in food insecurity,” The Breakfast Club’s Amanda Boadi said.

“Student participation has just skyrocketed.”

Read more: Alberta non-profits receive $3M to continue nutrition program amid COVID-19 school closures

The Breakfast Club is now appealing for more support as it  benefits from donations collected by The Grocery Foundation during its annual Toonies for Tummies campaign in Canadian supermarkets.

The campaign helps to build a program that also brings benefits for the student volunteers.

“Kokob, it’s really helped her with being confident and being a leader,” Sheldon said.

“Having The Breakfast Club has definitely been a great benefit to her that way.”

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Kokob Kifle said volunteering at her school helps her learn important lessons: “To work hard and be responsible.

“It’s nice to help the kids, because they can focus in class if they eat breakfast in the morning.”

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