The Importance of Starting Their Day with a Healthy Meal

Guest post by Jenny from The Brunette Baker

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Thomas Fuller once said, "Charity begins at home but it should not end there."

While this is a beautiful concept, for some families it's hard to donate outside the home when there's nothing to giveinside.

Sadly, this is a stark reality for many Canadian households. Parents torn every month with the decision to pay rent or buy food. According to a 2011 Household Food Insecurities in Canada study, 1 in 6 Canadian children goes to school hungry. As a mother of two school-aged children, this statistic shatters my heart. That means in an average classroom of 25 students, four children are potentially hungry. To those of you that are parent or guardians, out of those four students, one or two may be your child's closest friend.

When these facts are brought down to a more personal level, it's quite shocking, isn't it?

Now that I have your attention, I implore you to please give me a few more minutes of your time and stay with me throughout the rest of this post. There's a wealth of knowledge I'm about to feed you and it's important you take it and digest it well.

How many times have you heard, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day"?

Well, there's good reason for this. The word 'breakfast' literally means, 'breaking one's fast'. It's important as humans to recharge after a night's sleep. Food is fuel; it's energy for our bodies. Without it, we can't function properly. We lose clarity. We get tired, cranky, and have little patience.

Imagine a child expected to perform at their best at school, yet are left to deal with a rumbly belly all day and there is nothing he or she can do about it. They're hardly given a fair chance to show their potential.

Children who suffer from poor nutrition during the brain's most formative years score much lower on tests of vocabulary, reading comprehension, arithmetic, and general knowledge. Morning fasting has a negative effect on cognitive performance, even among healthy, well-nourished children. A test of the speed and accuracy of response on problem-solving tasks given to children who did or did not eat breakfast found that skipping breakfast had an adverse influence on their performance on the tests.

In a study conducted, it showed children aged six to eleven years old from food-insufficient families had significantly lower arithmetic scores and were more likely to have repeated a grade. Families were classified as food-deficient if they self-reported as sometimes or often not having enough food to eat. In addition, food-insufficient teenagers were more likely to have been suspended from school, and children in this category were more likely to have seen a psychologist and to have experienced difficulty interacting with their peers. Even moderate under-nutrition can have lasting effects and compromise cognitive development and school performance.

In 2012, it was estimated that four million individuals in Canada - 1.5 million being children, experienced some level of food insecurity. Food insecurity indicates a deprivation in terms of basic human need: access to nutritious food in sufficient quantities to maintain good health.

However, there's hope.

The Grocery Foundation and, a program I hold dear to my heart, Toonies For Tummies, have been working closely with other programs such as Breakfast Clubs of Canada and Breakfast For Learning to make vast improvements on student nutrition across Ontario and in the past, Atlantic Canada.

Since 1979, The Grocery Foundation has worked to provide snacks and meals to enrich the lives of children all across Ontario and Atlantic Canada. The Grocery Foundation is a registered, non-profit organization founded by members of the grocery industry. To date, they have raised in excess of $80 MILLION which has greatly benefited hundreds of charities, many focused on helping children and families in need.

Toonies for Tummies is an in-store retail fund-raising effort organized by The Grocery Foundation on behalf of food, beverage, and consumer goods manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. It is designed to help raise funds to support school nutrition programs administered by registered charities. Programs such as these would NOT be possible with out the support of manufacturers with operations across Canada and by retailers in Ontario and in the past, Atlantic Canada.

The Breakfast Program of Canada was launched in Longueuil, Quebec by founder David Germain, who wanted to give children the opportunity to have a nutritious breakfast before school. What a great guy. Since its launch in 1994, over 152,000 students have access to a nutritious breakfast each morning in 1,328 schools across Canada. In 2013, The Club has served over 24 MILLION breakfasts to students.

Breakfast For Learning, launched in 1992 by a small group of proactive editors at Canadian Living magazine brought a vision to life when they took the step to help out hungry kids. Today, Breakfast for Learning supports breakfast, lunch, and snack programs across the country and offers equipment grants to help meets the demands of feeding large groups of children.

In the 2012 school year alone, these programs combined have provided children and youth with over 40 MILLION nourishing breakfasts. In 2013, this number rose to 56 MILLION.

And get this:

In 2014, The Grocery Foundation conducted a national survey to uncover what Canadians know (as well as what they do not) and what they thing about the issue of child hunger and food insecurity in Canada. Among the surgery highlighted:

• 81% of Canadians believe children in their community are going without breakfast and nearly as many believe Canada’s ability to feed its hungry children is directly tied to the future prosperity of our country.

• 60% believe the cost starts at $3, ranging upwards to $10. Only 1 in 5 respondents (18%) of those surveyed think that a Toonie can provide a nutritious breakfast.

• More than three in four Canadians (76%) believe children 5-7 years of age are eligible for school-nutrition programs as compared with one in four (26%) who believe children 13 years and older are also eligible. The reality is both are eligible.

• 88% report they are inclined to help a charity if they know they are making a difference and 89 per cent agree that even $1 or $2 can.

• 87.5% of Canadians say they are inclined to give more to a charity if they know where their donation is going. You can track your Toonie online at www.tooniesfortummies.ca.

Toonies for Tummies

Here's how YOU can help:

From February 4th until February 18th, 2015 please donate $2 at participating supermarkets (see below) across Ontario. All proceeds collected will be given to Breakfast For Learning and Breakfast Clubs of Canada programs which provide nutritious meals to children in schools.

In 2013, the Toonies for Tummies Program raised $864,000 in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. Last year, the program raised $855,965.43 in Ontario alone! This year, The Grocery Foundation aims to raise $1 million in support of these incredible programs.

Please donate.

Children are the future. These same people who will one day make a big difference in our country and in our world.

When we nurture a body, we grow a mind.

And a Toonie is a big step in the right direction.


Please visit these 'Toonies For Tummies' participating stores in Ontario:

• Chelsey Grocery Store

• Concord Food Centre

• Coppa's Fresh Market

• Fiesta Farms

• Food Basics

��� Galati Market Fresh

• Galleria Supermarkets

• Highland Farms

• Longo's

• Metro Ontario

• Michael Angelo’s

• Michael Dean's Super Food Store

• Oak Ridges Food Market

• Rabba Fine Foods

• Sunripe Farms

• The Country Grocer

• Vince's Markets