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Struggle to meet need: Hundreds of schools on waiting list for school meal program

Across the country, millions of families are struggling to meet their food needs.

Breakfast clubs are doing their best to meet this growing need and ensure children have access to what is often referred to as the most important meal of the day.

Richard Parent, a long-time volunteer, prepares breakfast every morning at a Montreal school.

“There is no equal access to food,” Parent says. “I’ve had kids tell me it’s their only meal of the day.”

From waffles to cereal, Parent serves a variety of breakfasts.

“Dairy, fruit and protein every morning, that’s important to us,” Parent said. “It’s the same breakfast for everyone. Not everyone has the same opportunity to eat at home.”

The Breakfast Club says the number of children it serves has doubled since 2019 and the waiting list is now long.

“More than 700 schools have submitted a request to our organization because they need help,” explains Judith Barry, co-founder of the Breakfast Club.

Barry said it has been two years since they made the difficult decision not to take on any new programs.

“We have limited funds. Our expenses exceed our revenues and the existing network has huge gaps. We try to maintain and support the existing network before bringing in new programs,” Barry said.

The organization is also feeling the impact of inflation.

“There are more kids in the program who need it, and on the other end of the spectrum, the cost of running the programs is higher. With the cost of food increasing and the cost of transportation and even equipment increasing. supporting programs, it’s difficult,” Barry said.

According to the federal government, one in five children in Canada is at risk of going to school hungry every day.

End of October, the government said it received comments from a variety of stakeholders, including provincial and territorial governments, service delivery organizations, academic experts, school communities, and children and youth, who overwhelmingly shared that feeding programs school benefits children.

Officials said the contribution will help the federal government develop a national school feeding policy, a promise the Liberals made two years agoto tackle the problem of food insecurity in Canada.

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