Deirdre Pike is tweaking the conventional school breakfast program.
Instead of serving breakfasts before classes, her volunteer organization helps to provide early morning meals in the middle of the school day, so all students can learn with full stomachs.
“Breakfasts served before the school day can be challenging because not everyone can be there,” said Pike, manager of student nutrition programs for Tastebuds Hamilton. “The early morning meal is served after second period, so everybody’s here. And there’s no stigma.”
Students at Green Acres Elementary School in Stoney Creek can get cracking on their student nutrition programs thanks to the Tastebuds Hamilton student nutrition collaborative and Egg Farmers of Ontario.
On Friday, Pike visited Green Acres to accept a cheque for $20,000 from the Egg Farmers of Ontario for Tastebuds Hamilton’s nutrition programs. The organization serves 145 schools and community centres, providing meals for 25,000 children a day. Green Acres is one of 15 schools which offer eggs as an option to students.
Tastebuds Hamilton is funded by donors in the public and private sectors, includingHamilton’s public and separate school boards, and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
Early morning nutrition at Green Acres typically includes three of the four food groups.
Hard boiled eggs are often provided, along with fresh fruit, grains and dairy on a rotating basis.
Green Acres principal Brian Seamans said the school has operated a nutrition program for more than four years.
While it’s hard to tell whether the program has directly translated into student success, Seamans has seen a noticeable drop in behavioural problems.
“Kids are more attentive and research shows kids who are more attentive perform better,” he said.
Seaman said the hard boiled eggs are more popular with younger students, but options like whole wheat pitas with jalapeno dip are a hit with older students.
Harry Pelissero, general manager of Egg Farmers of Ontario, joined St. Mary’s egg farmer Scott Graham at Friday’s presentation.
Graham answered students’ questions about egg farming, which ranged from topics the number of eggs a hen lays each day, to the types of animals on his farm.
Graham’s family farm produces close to nine million eggs a year, or 24,000 each day. He’s one of 430 registered Ontario egg farmers. Aside from Graham and his son, the farm has just one other part-time staff member.
Pelissero said eggs provide an excellent protein option for school nutrition programs.
“They have a high satiation factor, so they make you feel full,” he said.
Hard boiled eggs served at Green Acres come pre-packaged from Lococos supermarket, one of Tastebuds’ corporate sponsors. Green Acres’ early morning meals are served by parents, community volunteers and students.
For more information on Tastebuds Hamilton and its activities, visit www.tastebudshamilton.ca.