Rise and shine with the Breakfast Club of Canada

Contributing Editor Joan Kelley Walker on why she feels so passionately about the Breakfast Club of Canada.

When I became a mother, my entire life changed. For those of you who are parents, I am sure you can relate. Your heart expands so wide, it knows no borders and the love for your child knows no boundaries. We often hear the common phrase, “having a child is like watching your heart walking around outside of your body,” and doesn’t it feel like it, too? I wasn’t expecting this awakening—one that even stretched beyond my own children. Every
time I saw a child, I hoped that he or she felt loved and had his or her basic needs (food, education and shelter) met. My husband and I do a lot of philanthropic work with organizations around the world like missions with World Vision Canada. Mission trips overseas ensure basic needs are met. The thing I never imagined is that there are children who are not getting sufficient nutrition in my own backyard.

The truth is, one in four children in Canada might not eat breakfast today. This is the most
recent statistic provided by the Breakfast Club of Canada. I believe that no child should be
a statistic and children should be hungry for knowledge, not food.

When I pursued my dream of creating a fashion line that gives back, I wanted to align with a foundation that focused on the health and well-being of children in Canada. That was when I was introduced to the incredible work and vision of the Breakfast Club of Canada.
They have been feeding young Canadians since 1994, helping them reach their full potential one breakfast at a time. Celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, and serving more than 243,521 nutritious breakfasts daily in 1,809 schools throughout Canada, this program is creating an impact by making sure children have an equal chance to learn. I have had the privilege of visiting some of these schools and have seen how this community-based initiative is making a difference every single day. A child smiling because they are full and happy is priceless.

Food insecurity and poor lifestyle choices have significant repercussions on the health and education of our youth because when students attend schools on an empty stomach, their energy levels, problem-solving skills, creativity, concentration and behaviour are negatively impacted. When a child receives a consistent healthy breakfast, positive changes are a result. The program alleviates hunger-related stress in children, it promotes greater nutritional awareness and provides greater access to healthy food choices.

When I think about giving back I am inspired by the domino effect it has. The Breakfast Club of Canada program not only fuels a child’s stomach and brain, it also fuels his or her heart. Children have the opportunity to get involved and feel connected to their peers. They have the opportunity to give to others, to find even small ways to help those in need and become active in the community. Inspiring a generation to give is something we can all feel good about.

One thing is certain: There are many reasons why children may arrive at school with empty stomachs and it is never their fault. I believe it is important to provide them with proper nutrition, which gives them the opportunity to reach their full potential. This is why it is so important for all of us to do what we can. It only takes $2 a day to feed a Canadian child a nutritious breakfast. For every purchase made of the Joan Kelley Walker collection, a donation will be made to the Breakfast Club of Canada. You can learn more at www.breakfastclubcanada.org.