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Soaring costs could jeopardize school nutrition programs

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A charitable foundation that supports breakfast programs in Alberta schools is asking for help delivering meals to children amid high costs and growing demand.

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The Breakfast Club of Canada said Tuesday that with the ongoing costs of the pandemic and increased spending on food, equipment and transportation, it projects a national revenue shortfall of $2 million this year. school.

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Despite a waiting list of more than 150 schools in Alberta, the organization said it could not offer any new breakfast programs in the province and, in a struggle to maintain support for existing programs, it has launched a back-to-school fundraising campaign. .

Alberta Breakfast Club of Canada spokeswoman Amanda Boadi said in an interview with Postmedia on Tuesday that the pinch is also partly due to higher attendance.

“We’ve seen more families accessing the programs who wouldn’t have thought to use it, and so student attendance at each school is also up,” Boadi said, adding that breakfast programs can help. to attendance, with student learning and to reduce behavioral incidents in classrooms.

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“I always like to compare that to adults – how well do you function when you’re hungry?” Boadi said.

“When a student can start their day with nutritious food that will fuel them for the day, it removes many other barriers that could come from home, situational barriers, so they all have an equal chance of succeeding in start the day.”

With its community partners, including Edmonton’s three school boards, non-profit organizations and food retailers, the club helps reach more than 28,500 children every morning through more than 280 school nutrition programs across the Alberta. That’s an increase from last year to 21,000 children in 240 schools across the province.

Nationally, it supports about 3,500 programs, and Boadi said Alberta has a high concentration in part because of increased school board engagement.

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The fundraising campaign comes after the Edmonton Food Bank said demand for its basket program peaked in June. According to a recent report from a research program at the University of Toronto on the policy of food insecurity, Alberta had the highest rate among Canadian provinces of households that could not afford enough food in 2021.

The club said that in the absence of a national school feeding program and temporary emergency funding from the federal government dries up, the programs are even more reliant on contributions from individuals and businesses.

In June, the Alberta government announced it had increased its funding for school nutrition programs to $20 million in 2022-23, from a previous total of $18.5 million.

Edmonton Public’s first day of school is September 1, while Catholic students in Edmonton are scheduled to return to class on August 31. Edmonton Public forecasts enrollment growth of 2.7%, while Edmonton Catholic expects an increase of 0.7%.

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Both divisions partner with various organizations to deliver food to schools, including local nonprofit e4c. Christine Meadows, spokeswoman for Edmonton Catholic, said in an email to Postmedia that rising food prices are a challenge.

“We are continually looking for innovative ways to source our food at the best prices. Some of the food costs are covered by our partners who provide snacks, breakfast or lunch to our students,” she wrote.

To donate to Breakfast Club of Canada, visit www.breakfastclubcanada.org/bts2022, or text CLUB to 20222.

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