Expanded Fleetwood-Bawden breakfast program producing results

By Garrett Simmons

Communications Officer

Lethbridge School District No. 51

An expanded breakfast program at Fleetwood-Bawden Elementary School is producing positive results for children.

Wednesday morning, the entire school gathered in the gym for a holiday-themed universal breakfast, which included all the elements of a healthy meal, meant to prepare students for a full day of classes.

The scope and scale in which breakfast can now be delivered pales in comparison to when the breakfast program began about three years ago. That is thanks to new kitchen, built by Type Three Homes.

“We started the first year on a very small budget with no kitchen and just a sink,” said Heather Paul, a parent who has been running Fleetwood’s breakfast program the last three years. “Now we have moved in to this big, beautiful new kitchen, which has made us able to offer more nutritional choices, work more efficiently and serve more children.”

Type Three Homes donated the millwork for the kitchen project and installed the cabinets, which were donated by Kurier in Lethbridge. Work began in the summer on the kitchen, thanks to a $10,000 donation in labour and materials from Type Three.

“We were contacted about a year ago about doing the breakfast school program kitchen, and when we were given the opportunity to contribute to it, we jumped at the opportunity,” said Type Three’s Ken Aitkens. “We see the value in the project here being something that can enable the students and the teachers to be able to provide nutritional breakfasts for the students in need in our neighbourhood.”

Fleetwood principal Craig DeJong added the new kitchen has enabled the school to expand the breakfast program from its humble beginnings.

“Like many other schools we were using stop-gap methods of just bringing in more snack foods, and we decided kids required a better balance with all the food groups. We made a concerted effort and gained some grant money and started small but we are up to feeding anywhere from 80-120 kids each day with full, healthy meals.”

Fleetwood is also able to deliver a universal meal to all 404 of its students, twice a week.

“We have very creative staff and we started with using George Foreman grills and small personal-level toasters, and now we have been able to expand into equipment that suits the needs of feeding up to 400 kids,” said DeJong. “We have the storage and cooking capabilities to feed all the kids in a pretty tight timespan. When they arrive at school we can feed every kid in about 15 minutes. It takes a lot of our EAs and our staff volunteers to make that happen.”

All food options follow the Canada Food Guide, and items from all four food groups are selected for each daily menu. Food items also take into account student allergies and cultural food preferences.

“We make sure the menu meets District standards and the Canada Food Guide,” said Fleetwood teacher Ali Koganow. “Eating breakfast is probably the most important meal of the day for these kids to get ready for the day. Setting these kids up for success in the main goal.”

Koganow added low-sugar, high-protein nutritional options are provided, as staff and volunteers go above and beyond every morning.

“They even hand make apple sauce in the morning for French toast, so a lot of work goes into it,” she said. “The ladies do an amazing job of caring for these kids.”

According to DeJong, the results of all that hard work speak for themselves.

“Students are coming in with more sustained energy and a balanced meal that is going to carry them through the day, rather than some of the stuff that was used previously,” said the principal. “With the balanced meal we are able to deliver to the kids, it’s really bringing sustained energy, and better academic performance is what it’s all about.”

Carlie Ramotowski, vice-principal at Fleetwood, said hunger is not a barrier for students, and added students often take a leadership role in the school by serving meals to their peers. Students have also had the opportunity to participate in a baking program, thanks to the kitchen.

“The Fleetwood-Bawden School community would once again like to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to Type Three Homes for this donation, which allows us to satisfy one of the basic needs of our students daily. Students are able to begin their day with a full stomach, are regulated and ready to immerse themselves in learning,” said Ramotowski.

Date posted: Dec. 20, 2018

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