Martin C. Barry
President’s Choice Children’s Charity announced during an event on Jan. 22 at École primaire du Bois Joli in eastern Laval that it is making a donation of $1 million to the non-profit ‘Breakfast for Learning’ organization in order to support 29,371 children in Quebec.
According to President’s Choice, the money will be invested in developing, implementing and supporting healthy eating programs in schools by offering 4,956,263 breakfasts, lunches and snacks to kids across the province who are in need.
Hunger a problem
Despite greater awareness in recent years of the impact hunger makes on school children and their ability to learn, it remains a very real problem across Quebec and its regions. The most recent HungerCount, published by in Fall 2015 by Food Banks Canada, says that close to 400,000 people, including 150,000 children, go hungry every month in Quebec.
“The health and well-being of children is a priority for Loblaw,” said Johanne Héroux, director of the Quebec branch of President’s Choice Children’s Charity. “We are pleased to help children to maximize their academic potential and to promote awareness of the importance of healthy eating, thanks to our partnership with Breakfast for Learning.”
Helping future leaders
Laval mayor Marc Demers, who was one of several dignitaries on hand for the announcement, said he was particularly pleased to see such a large gift being made for the well-being of children who are the future. “This is the best thing that any community can do,” he said. “I am certain that there people here in this room who one day will become mayors or elected officials.
“Today it’s our turn to extend to you a hand and to help you,” Demers continued. “But later it will maybe be you who will make decisions to take care of the elderly which is important. This is an important gift for the whole community. It’s not everyday that a foundation or an enterprise offers $1 million in assistance for a cause as good as this.”
Encouraging school success
Quebec Family Minister and Liberal MNA for Mille-Îles Francine Charbonneau was equally pleased with the gift, as were Liberal MP for Alfred-Pellan Angelo Iacono and Commission scolaire de Laval president Louise Lortie.
Experts say that nutrition programs aren’t just beneficial to children’s nourishment, they also have a direct positive effect on their behaviour and success in school. Studies have shown that a nutritious and healthy diet helps children concentrate and solve problems in class while also stimulating creativity and performance in their studies.
Better eating habits
“Our programs’ success is very tangible,” said Marie-José Mastromonaco, Breakfast for Learning’s regional manager. “During the school year of 2014-2015, 90 per cent of participating schools in Quebec observed an improvement in class behaviour and 80 per cent said they witnessed an improvement in their students’ success. Moreover, 97 per cent reported that their nutrition programs contributed to instilling better healthy eating habits in their students.”
Charbonneau spoke to the guests about the fundamental importance to our society of initiating children to healthy eating habits. Johanne Héroux, Director of the President’s Choice Children’s Charity in Quebec and Guy St-Pierre, Vice-President, Maxi and Maxi & Cie, presented the donation to Marie-José Mastromonaco, Breakfast for Learning’s regional manager.