Winnipeg volunteers offer food security at Bertrun E. Glavin school breakfast club

At Winnipeg’s Bertrun E. Glavin school, volunteers and kids believe in starting the day off right. Nine-year-old Aron Abire says coming to the school’s breakfast club puts him in a good mood for the day.

“It feels good to play with my friends and have fun after we’re finished breakfast,” he says.

The program runs three times a week, between 8:15 a.m. and the start of the school day. It’s supported by Breakfast Clubs of Canada and the Grocery Foundation. The organizations are currently raising funds as part of its Toonies for Tummies campaign.

Volunteer Toby Kravetsky, whose twin sons attend Bertrun E. Glavin, started the program last year, after she heard some parents in their community couldn’t send their kids to school because they weren’t getting breakfast. The kids took to it right away.

“The excitement of coming in every morning is one of my favourites,” Kravetsky says. “The things they have to tell me, the ‘we need this, can we make this?’ And it’s pancakes. Or ‘can we have fruit?’ I’m like, ‘these are the exciting things? Yeah, we can accommodate that!’”

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Kravetsky and her fellow volunteers feed 20 to 40 kids each day the program runs, with some of the students even bringing their siblings from Valley Gardens Middle School next door.

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“I like knowing that I’ve made a difference in the school,” Kravetsky says. “I see the difference in the kids in general and I like seeing that I can add another support to the building.”

The kids aren’t just excited to eat pancakes and smoothies — they’re eager to help prepare them, too.

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“It’s fun that you can flip stuff, you can help make toast, you can help mix, you can do lots of stuff,” says 10-year-old Rosa Debraga.

Principal Colin McDonald says checking in with the kids in the morning is a highlight of his day. He says there is a real need for food security among the kids.

“We know that there are plenty of kids who are underprivileged here, and we see that, and we try to meet those needs,” McDonald says.

Being well-nourished gets the kids ready to learn, but McDonald says it goes beyond the food. Whether it’s making new friends, playing a card game, or just sitting down to a meal together, he says the breakfast club is a time for connection that every child needs.

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“The emotional side of it is really important too,” McDonald says. “Because we know kids come into this school and they’re not regulated. And having a full tummy is so important for these kids. It’s about giving these kids a chance.”

You can learn more about how to support Toonies for Tummies, and fight food insecurity among families, by visiting globalnews.ca/tooniesfortummies.

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