The commencement of the new school year has brought with it a surge in demand for organizations providing food to children during the school day. A distressing indication of increasing economic struggles among families, the need for a federal school meal program becomes glaringly evident.
Saskatoon Friendship Inn’s takeout window has become a beacon of hope for those in need of a nutritional meal to sustain them through the day. The place hums with heightened activity every September, particularly bustling with children and families, according to Laura Herman, Friendship Inn Development and Engagement Manager.
Supplementing their standard dining room service, the curbside window provides breakfast offerings in the am and transitions to lunch items as the day progresses. Regular fare includes a hot meal such as soup alongside a sandwich, with the occasional delight of donated pizza from local restaurants.
The Inn opens its windows to anyone in need of a meal, with children representing a significant portion of the beneficiaries.
While Saskatoon Friendship Inn is doing its part, broader economic exigencies are burdening families and exposing students to the risk of diminished nutrition, compromising their ability to focus and learn. Food programs are thereby being stretched to meet the rising demand for nutritious meals.
Testament to these circumstances is Julianne Nyasulu, Programs Advisor for the Breakfast Club of Canada, which has experienced a surge of a hundred schools on its waitlist over the past year. The inflationary pressures and escalating costs have deeply impacted breakfast initiatives, she stated.
Since its founding in 1994, the Breakfast Club of Canada has supported meal programs across the country, operating in approximately 3,000 school programs nationwide. Of these, 50 are in Saskatchewan, serving around 8,000 children.
The intensifying need is highlighted by the 500 Canadian schools currently on the waitlist, equaling or exceeding in certain provinces the current active programs, according to Nyasulu.
Highlighting shortcomings in Canada’s national meal policies, University of Saskatchewan researcher Rachel Engler-Stringer asserts that, contrary to most affluent nations, Canada lacks a comprehensive school food program. Her research reveals poor nutritional intake during school hours among students, extending to children in affluent areas as well, and underscores the implications of this deficiency on broader social interactions among children.
Unquestionably, the responsibility for feeding our students extends beyond just the Saskatoon Friendship Inn. As the demand grows, so does the commitment of various schools, the Breakfast Club of Canada, and other organizations to ensure that children in our communities receive adequate nutrition.
To continue their invaluable work, both Saskatoon Friendship Inn and the Breakfast Club of Canada depend on generous donations from the public, guidance for which can be located on their respective websites.