In the heart of Metcalfe Public School lies a School Breakfast Program that provides a warm, nourishing meal each school day, setting the tone for students to learn and thrive. The dedicated individual at its helm for the past ten years is Christine Lee.
A Decade of Dedication
When the previous coordinator moved to a different part of the city, the vice-principal of Metcalfe Public School needed someone to step in. With two children attending the school, Christine saw this as a perfect opportunity to contribute. Already involved in lunchtime monitoring, taking on the role of Program Coordinator for the School Breakfast Program was a seamless transition.
September 2014 marked the beginning of what would become a decade-long commitment to the program. Over these years, Christine has witnessed firsthand the impact of a simple meal on the lives of students.
There’s something uniquely rewarding about watching the excitement in students’ eyes as they enjoy their favorite breakfast items; “I love watching the students get so excited about being fed, especially if we are serving one of their favourites. Food just makes people happy and that makes me happy,” says Christine when asked why she loves running the School Breakfast Program.
Facing Challenges with Heart
With a 25% increase in program participation since last year and the shift from sit-down meals to classroom bin delivery due to Covid, costs have escalated. Finding people who are able to help is also a struggle. The coordinator’s strategy of capitalizing on sales for periodic treats has become challenging and most prepackaged foods are now beyond the budget. But one thing Christine is good at is shopping the sales and making sure the students have the most nutritious and fulfilling foods available.
As Christiane Sicard, Community Development Coordinator with ONFE’s School Breakfast Program boasts, “I visit a good number of schools every year; when I opened the fridge at Metcalfe Public School, I was shocked. I said: ‘’WOW!’’ Christine asked me why I had that reaction and if something was wrong. I told her I was amazed by all the little containers of hummus. The day before she portioned over 100 little containers of hummus for the students. She said, ‘’I do it for the students, to make sure they eat healthy and have a variety of food.” Seeing her smile when she was cutting some pita bread in small triangles to go with the hummus and little bags of carrots – I knew right away that she is doing this out of heart.”
The Key to Smooth Operation
Reflecting on what makes the program run smoothly, Christine credits a well-honed system, developed through trial and error, and supported by a fantastic school community. While there have been both successes and setbacks, the critical factor has been her dedication to the program. The ability to focus on the importance of the School Breakfast Program allows for effective planning, shopping, and handling of additional tasks.
For ten years, the School Breakfast Program at Metcalfe Public School has not just been about food; it’s been about community, care, and dedication. Their School Breakfast Program stands as a testament to the power of a well-run program to make a tangible difference in the lives of young learners. As Christine looks forward to more years of service, the program continues to be a beacon of hope and a source of daily joy for the students at Metcalfe Public School.
For more information on ONFE’s School Breakfast Program, including how you can get involved, please click here.