Volunteers Sonya and Martina help out at the Grassy Plains School breakfast program. It partnership between the Breakfast Club of Canada and Rio Tinto Alcan.

Breakfast program is launched at Grassy Plains Elementary

Rio Tinto Alcan has committed to donate over $250,000 to the Breakfast Club of Canada over the next three years.

More children are now able to start their day with a nutritious breakfast thanks to a partnership between the Breakfast Club of Canada and Rio Tinto Alcan.

Rio Tinto Alcan has committed to donate over $250,000 over the next three years to the Breakfast Club of Canada. The partnership will provide healthy meals to more than 800 children in 12 schools of North Western British Columbia.

Rio Tinto’s funding sustains the breakfast program in four schools in Burns Lake area including Lakes District Secondary School, Woyenne Primary, Woyenne Kindergarten and K’ay Skak Alternate Program.

A new beneficiary of this program is Grassy Plains Elementary. Although its students have enjoyed the program’s healthy breakfasts since late September, the program was officially launched on Dec. 11, 2014.

School principal Heidi Grant said that before the program took place, the school was only able to provide toasts for those students “who identified themselves as being hungry.”

The new breakfast program not only has a much wider selection of food such as banana pancakes, fresh fruit, milk and juice, but it is also opened to anyone who wishes to have breakfast.

The principal said she is confident that the early meal will make a difference in the students’ learning and behaviour.

“Anyone who is hungry is not able to concentrate in the same way of someone who had a nutritious meal,” she said. “If you’re hungry you can’t concentrate, and you become cranky.”

Breakfast Club of Canada is a non-profit organization that provides funding, equipment, training and support to school breakfast programs across the country. According to statistics from the organization, one in seven children starts the school day on an empty stomach due to a lack of access to nutritious food. In Aboriginal communities, this ratio is actually one in four.

“When children get a balanced meal in a positive, stimulating environment, there are marked improvements in behaviour and concentration, academic performance, social skills, self-confidence, overall interest in the subjects being taught, and less incidents of bullying,” states the Breakfast Club of Canada’s website.

So far for the 2014/2015 school year, Rio Tinto Alcan’s contributions have enabled Breakfast Club of Canada to launch the program at Grassy Plains Elementary and four other schools – Skeena Middle School and Cassie Hall Elementary in Terrace, Nechako Valley Secondary School in Vanderhoof and Houston Secondary School in Houston.

The Rio Tinto Alcan Canada Fund is committed to providing support for community building initiatives.

“This initiative is aligned with Rio Tinto Alcan’s core values,” said Gaby Poirier, general manager of Rio Tinto Alcan Primary Metal B.C. Operations. “It helps to improve the quality of life and health of children in the communities in which we operate.”

Grassy Plains Elementary has 88 students, but only 25 of those students opted to have the daily meal at school. The free breakfast will be provided daily until the end of the school year, and the program can be renewed in 2015.