Published on September 24, 2013
Grade 2 student Madison Durnford enjoys a bowl a cereal at the J.J. Curling Elementary breakfast club.
Published on September 24, 2013
Sharon Delaney, left, and Nancy Rogers butter the toast and bagels for the J.J. Curling Elementary breakfast club.
CORNER BROOK — It’s just before 7:50 a.m. on a Wednesday morning and a few students are starting to arrive at J.J. Curling Elementary, but inside the school there’s already a flurry of activity.
Just follow the smell of fresh toast and you’ll find a group of parents and grandparents hard at work in a small cafeteria getting ready for the day’s breakfast.
The school is one of more than 200 in the province to offer a Kids Eat Smart Club. The clubs are overseen by and operate on grants from the Kids Eat Smart Foundation. The provincial government is a partner in the program and donations from the public and businesses also help to ensure that no child goes unfed.
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday the J.J. Curling volunteer-run club offers a full breakfast and on Tuesday and Thursday it’s a grab-and-go system.
On this day, the juice and milk have been poured and lids placed on the cups to protect a child with allergies. The fruit tray has been filled. Yogurt tubes line the counter with a pair of scissors nearby for snipping off the tops and an assortment of cold and hot cereals are just waiting to be poured. Behind that bagels and toast are being buttered, and the smell of cinnamon sugar helps to wake up the taste buds.
Between 8 a.m. and the first bell at 8:15 a.m. the club will go through six bags of bagels, four to five loaves of bread, three packs of yogurt tubes, four litres of milk and six litres each of apple and orange juice.
Among the volunteers Sharon Delaney arrived early so she could get her spot preparing the toast.
At one point a voice calls out “nan” and Delaney responds. She explains that she started volunteering with the club last year when her grandson Cody Jacobs started school.
“I just wanted to be with him a little bit longer during the day and just keep an eye on him,” she said.
Now she volunteers every day.
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” she said. “I love coming down here, seeing all the kids and getting to know all the kids and getting to know the teachers.”
“It’s just wonderful just to see all the kids come in and they’re interacting with each other.”
In her grandson’s case, she said the club has enabled him to make friends with students of different ages and that helps lessen her worry.
“There’s always somebody a little older going to watch out for him.”
Sitting at a table eating some hot oatmeal, Grade 3 student Jordan Strickland has only one word to describe what he likes about the breakfast club and that’s “food.”
Volunteer co-ordinator Serena Applin said enjoys watching the children eat and talk.
“They love it,” Applin said. “I think it’s the social more than the food for them.”
This is Applin’s sixth year with the program. She started volunteering when her daughter started school and like Delaney likes the connection it gives her to the school.
“To know the kids that your child is hanging out with every day.”
This year Delaney has 25 volunteers already in place for the club with a few more interested. She said in some years it can be hard to get volunteers, but now people are sending her their schedules so she can fit them in and rotate the work.
That’s all good news to Victoria White.
White, the Kids Eat Smart Foundation program development co-ordinator for the west coast, has also dropped by to see the club in action.
One of th largest
She said J.J. Curling operates one of the largest Kids Eat Smart Clubs in this region.
The region covers everywhere from southern Labrador to the Northern Peninsula, around the Corner Brook and Humber Valley, out to Hampden, Stephenville, Port au Port, Codroy and Port aux Basques. The region includes 63 schools from the English school board and two from the French that offer either breakfast, lunch or snack programs. Afterschool snack programs are also offered at the Community Youth Network and WestRock Community Centre in Corner Brook.
“The whole premise is eating healthy and the connection to the ability to learn,” said White of the idea behind the clubs.
She said the vision of the foundation is that every schoolage child in the province attend school well nourished and ready to learn.
That’s something participating schools see as a benefit of the program.
“If they’re well nourished and their stomachs are full when they go to class they’re more ready learn and to participate in the activities that are happening in the classroom,” said Cathy House, principal of Hampden Academy.
The kindergarten to Level 3 school in Hampden has a population of 74 students and runs the program five days a week. On average, House said, 40 students a day partake of the program.
“Everybody goes,” she said. “For a lot of them it’s more of a social type of environment. Most students go to the breakfast program to socialize.”