Hungry Red Deer students continue to rely on support from the community and local businesses through programs such as Toonies for Tummies now on at Save-On-Foods.
Nicola Golby, associate superintendent of learning services for Red Deer Public Schools, said most school breakfast, or snack programs, are funded through community partnerships. Three schools are also funded by a nutrition grant from the province.
“What the teachers find is when students are not focused on food and security, and always worrying about where their next meal will come from, they’re in a better position to learn,” Golby said.
“If we’re consistently able to provide breakfast for our students, it just takes away that fear and anxiety that they have to come to school hungry.”
She said students are more settled and focused in class, with less behavioural problems, when they aren’t hungry.
This week, both Save-On-Foods locations in Red Deer kicked off their Toonies for Tummies campaign to raise money for North Cottage High School to run a breakfast program.
Toonies for Tummies started Thursday and will run until Feb. 19. Save-On-Foods will match all donations made in the stores, up to $15,000.
Save-On-Foods north has been involved in the campaign for three years. Last year, the store raised $3,704.
Ernie Cordonier, Save-On-Foods north store manager, said Toonies for Tummies helps customers and the grocery store give back to the community.
Across the country, Save-On-Foods raised $250,000 in 2019.
Jeanette Countryman-Smith, the school’s office manager, said the breakfast program wouldn’t exist without Toonies for Tummies.
Usually, 17 out of the school’s 20 students are regularly fed breakfast. Sometimes, they get a hot meal, but there is always staples such as toast and cereal available.
“A good breakfast for kids gives them the energy to keep focused and have a good day at school,” said teacher Bryan Burley.