It was a warm, sunny spring day in Ottawa when St. Daniel School opened their doors to a couple of ONFE staff members visiting its School Breakfast Program. When we arrive, Matt Boucher, an EA at the school, is working hard cutting watermelon pieces to be delivered to the kindergarten classrooms. He knows it will all disappear – watermelon is always a welcome snack!
Matt Boucher starts his day early. Running the School Breakfast Program is a volunteer position, and it’s something he has enjoyed doing for four years (and counting). He tells us he volunteered so the Program would run on a stable, consistent basis – and he enjoys it very much.
In a school of about 200 kindergarten to grade six students, Matt has gotten to know the kids who rely on the School Breakfast program every school day. He recognizes who needs it the most, who might need a little extra, and even knows what the kids do outside of school, asking about friends, soccer, and of course, school life too.
Every school day, Matt bakes muffins, washes and cuts apples, hands out bananas and welcomes 40-50 students to the School Breakfast Program. And for the student or two who do not enjoy muffins, Matt has a supply of cereal on hand as an option too.
St. Daniel School is lucky to have a communal space where students can sit and eat. While there, we witnessed students from all grades sitting together, chatting, and enjoying their breakfasts.
After the students finish their meals, they return dishes, compost peels or cores, and dispose of garbage. Matt then wipes the counters, turns on the dishwasher and puts away the supplies.
Outside of school hours, Matt also does the shopping for the School Breakfast Program. He tells us of his appreciation for the school administration and staff, who are always there to support him.
St. Daniel’s School Breakfast program runs like a well-oiled machine. Matt was able to prepare the food, set it out, grab the plates, and serve the students, all while talking to us. And within minutes of the students arriving, it was easy to see that the Program, and Matt, have become an essential start to the school day. When we told him these students will remember him for years to come, he just smiled. He just wants them to learn on a full stomach. He mentions he has witnessed first-hand how having a nutritious start to the school day can positively impact a student’s behaviour. For him, knowing he is helping these kids makes it all worthwhile.
Matt Boucher is making a difference. Every school day he is providing students in need with the nutritious breakfast they need to start their day with the energy and focus needed for learning. Research has shown that students who eat breakfast regularly have improved cognitive function, attention span, memory, and overall academic performance.
And School Breakfast Programs, like the one at St. Daniel School, create opportunities for students to gather in a relaxed setting, fostering socialization and community building. These interactions can contribute to a positive school environment, promote peer relationships, and enhance the overall sense of belonging among students.
Thank you, Matt for stepping up and being there for the kids of St. Daniel School every school day! Your commitment to the School Breakfast Program and investing your time and effort into making a difference is truly inspiring. By volunteering, you have not only enriched the lives of St. Daniel School, but also contributed to the betterment of our community as a whole.
To learn how you can support ONFE’s School Breakfast Program, click here.