* For non-Canadians reading this, “toonie” refers the Canadian $2 coin.
I don’t know about you but if I had to choose to eat only at one meal a day for the rest of my life, I’d probably choose breakfast. It’s my favourite meal – you can go either sweet or savoury – and it is, as they say, the most important meal of the day. Personally, I know I simply cannot function properly if I don’t eat a decent breakfast and as a teacher, I see first-hand the effects a good (or not-so-good) breakfast can have in the classroom. Not eating anything in the morning has a negative effect on academic performance – even in kids who are healthy and well-nourished – it’s easy to spot those kids who don’t eat anything in the morning – they are the ones who, by morning recess are so hungry they can’t think about anything except how hungry they are. And when you are distracted by hunger, you can’t focus on your work, whether you are in Grade 1 or a grownup.
Sometimes, the “no breakfast” scenario happens because families run out of time to sit down to a proper breakfast that will set everyone up for a successful day. In many cases, it can also be because the kids “don’t feel like breakfast” – in fact, I live with a big kid who would head off for the day on a cup of coffee unless I set out some options for him 😉 As a teacher of cookery to boys ages 7-13, I have the ultimate luxury of being able to show kids how to prepare nutritious meals and teach them a little bit about where their food comes from at the same time. One of the meals I always focus on is breakfast (it’s an easy way to get kids to “buy in” to healthier options and it’s a great way to get them started in the kitchen). When talk about preparing our own breakfast, one of the things we always cover is making sure we include something from a few different food groups. We talk about the importance of fibre and protein. And most of all we talk about the importance of breakfast. Because my students and I are lucky that we have breakfast options. Sadly, so many do not.
Over 1.5 million Canadian children experience some form of food insecurity – defined as being deprived of access to nutritious food in sufficient quantities to maintain good health(1) every day. That’s a LOT of kids who are having a hard time focusing on their schoolwork. A staggering one in six children goes to school hungry every day in Canada. That’s right, we may be one of the world’s wealthiest countries but we have a child hunger issue that needs attention. The good news is that according to The Grocery Foundation’s 2014 national survey, over 80% of Canadians felt that our inability as a nation to feed our hungry children is directly linked to our country’s future prosperity – so people realize the problem is a significant one that requires attention. The not-so-good news is that not very many people are aware of just how little it takes to help. If you knew that a Toonie could provide a child with a nutritious breakfast (yes, that’s all it takes!), you wouldn’t hesitate to help out, right? That’s where Toonies for Tummies comes in.
This year, let’s work on getting food to hungry kids by donating a Toonie in-store (see participating retailers in Ontario and Atlantic Canada) or online from February 5th – 19th 2015. Let’s work together towards the goal of $1 million (that’s 1400 meals a day for an entire year!). Funds raised in 2015 will go towards providing nutritious meals to school-aged kids in Ontario and Atlantic Canada through Breakfast for Learning and Breakfast Clubs of Canada. For each in-store donation of $2 at participating retailers you will also receive a coupon booklet, which will give you savings off sponsoring company products. Want to see how far your toonie has gone and which schools you are helping? Check out the Grocery Foundation Toonie Tracker!
So go on, get donating. Because every kid deserves to be well-nourished.
Disclosure: I received compensation in return for my participation promoting the #Toonies4Tummies campaign. All opinions expressed are my own and, of course, this is a cause I truly believe in. I’ll be giving my Toonies over the next few weeks!
*Congrats Katie who won my How to Cook Everything Fast cookbook giveaway! I will be in touch!
1. Tarasuk, V, Mitchell, A, Dachner, N. (2014). Household food insecurity in Canada, 2012. Toronto: Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF). Retrieved from http://nutritionalsciences.lamp.utoronto.ca