Keeping body and mind together

In Burns Lake, at Lakes District Secondary School, between 60 and 80 kids take advantage of the free breakfast every day.

Lynne Reed serves up breakfast and lunch everyday at the Lakes District Secondary School in Burns Lake. The breakfast program serves between 60 to 80 kids every morning

A hungry learner probably has his or her mind on the next meal rather than the day’s studies. Several School District 91 schools include a breakfast and/or a lunch program for their students.

Since 2012, RioTinto Alcan (RTA) has partnered with the Breakfast Club of Canada (BCC) to sponsor seven programs in School District 91.

More than 400 students at Fort St. James Secondary, Fraser Lake Elementary, Lakes District Secondary School (LDSS), Fort Babine Elementary, and three schools on the Woyenne reserve (Kindergarten, Primary, and the K’ay Skak alternate program) in Burns Lake, benefit from their schools participation in the breakfast program.

Grassy Plains Elementary Secondary School has recently applied to be part of the program, and has been placed on a waiting list pending available funding.

Grassy Plains had a hot lunch program for 10 years running, until this year.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation hosted the program for seven years with funds drawn from their community forest operations. It started out as a small program to address the needs of Cheslatta children, but quickly grew to include all students at Grassy Plains.

Three years ago, after the mountain pine beetle epidemic affected the profitability of the community forest and after the shut down of the Cheslatta sawmill, RTA stepped in and took over funding the $70,000 a year program for three years. Recently, RTA announced cost saving measures that meant the shutdown of funding for Grassy Plains school.

Corrina Leween was Cheslatta Carrier chief when the Grassy Plains hot lunch program was initially established, and is sad to see the program no longer available.

“I can’t stress enough how important it was to this community,” Leween said. “Having it disappear is detrimental to our community. The kids got use to sitting and eating together. In our traditional ways, food is the glue of the community.”

Seven other schools in the school district are on the waiting list. The waiting list represents about 600 children.

RioTinto Alcan’s 2012 $109,400 donation to BCC made it possible for the organization to equip schools and train staff and volunteers to be able to offer the program.

“We’re 98 per cent funded by corporations and businesses,” said Josee Desjardins, BCC Western Canada regional director. “We have close to a 100 programs in B.C.”

RioTinto Alcan’s funding will come to an end this January, and a decision has not been made whether or not the funding will be renewed.

But BCC looks at its role as on ongoing commitment, regardless of specific local funding.

“If RTA cannot renew their funding, we will keep supporting the schools,” she said. “We’re not going to walk away.”

“Ideally, we’d find a new sponsor, but we have national sponsors, like Walmart, Costco, and Air Canada for example, so we won’t walk away from a school because we’re loosing dedicated funding.”

The national level funding allows BCC to maintain stable programs where it has already establish programs, but local corporate and individual sponsors are needed to keep the program growing.

Funding levels determine how long a school has to remain on a waiting list of a breakfast program.

In Burns Lake, at LDSS, between 60 and 80 kids take advantage of the free breakfast every day. Lynne Reed, who runs the LDSS kitchen, has been serving up healthy homemade food since spring of 2012.

She has a full day of kitchen work everyday. In addition to the breakfast program, LDSS also provides a lunch program spread over separate time blocks to manage student volumes. Reed works with student, staff and community volunteers, including Burns Lake RCMP members to get the meals out.

In addition to the principle funding that comes from BCC and Rio Tinto Alcan, LDSS principal Mike Skinner said the program is supported by a strong base of community support, including The Lakes District Family Enhancement program, Breakfast for Learning, the Rotary Club of Burns Lake, the Burns Lake District Teachers Association, James Ferguson, the CIBC, and the Lakes District Food Bank Coalition.

“We have stable funding for two or three years,” Skinner said. “Then we’ll have to see were things stand.”

Breakfast and lunch programs have been shown to decrease bullying and increase student focus and ability to learn.

“When we first started the [lunch] program, the school told us the program made a change for students in the school towards eliminating violence and racism,” Leween recalled. “They raved about the program and how much it did.”

Schools that don’t participate in a regular breakfast program still watch out for students who may be going hungry.

“We… help out students who missed breakfast or forgot a lunch,” said Decker Lake Elementary School principal Vincent Hewgill.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This photo of approximately 10 years ago shows Laureen Fabian, on the left, and daughter Caterina Andrews. Fabian went missing last October and her daughter is looking for answers. (Contributed photo)
Laureen Fabian’s disappearance remains a mystery

It’s been a year since she went missing

Adam Schmidt is currently at the BC Children’s Hospital. (GoFundMe/Laurel Miller)
Community comes together for a 15 year old Burns Laker admitted at BC Children’s hospital

A fundraising campaign to support the family is being run now

Last year’s Halloween saw a sunny day and in-person costume contests. (Blair McBride photo)
What’s Burns Lakes’ spooktacular plan for this Halloween?

Trick or treating, online contests and more for this season

WKE students pose with carpentry tools in front of the ADST trailer that will allow the school to have a fully operational mobile wood shop. (Karen Ware photo/Lakes District News)
William Konkin Elementary school undertakes project to teach intentional kindness

Students to learn to build crates, grow produce and share it with community

Daylight savings time ends at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 1 2020. (File Photo)
Clocks ‘fall back’ one hour Saturday night

Remember to set your clock back one hour on Saturday night, as… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

Most Read