School nutrition programs are very important for our students

There are many basic elements that help give students sound learning environments, but few are more important than a full stomach. There are some great programs that help students in Ward 4 have a fuller, healthier diet. Here is an article, where I recently spoke on this issue:

April, 2014

Kids need to eat properly to get the most out of school and a little food goes a long way.

It’s simple, but in many schools in Downsview, one small healthy meal is improving the education of many of our students.

It is a well documented fact that learning is harder on an empty stomach. For a number of reasons, it’s hard for some kids it’s to get a good meal on a regular basis before they leave for school.

Sometimes moms or dads are too busy working to make a proper breakfast.

Other times, teenagers, being teenagers run out the door before eating the food they have. In some situations, adults in the house are just not able to put together a proper meal for their children.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” said Zubeda Nanji, Executive Director for the Breakfast Club, “But our program is much more than just a meal. It builds community, it brings the students together, it gives parents the peace of mind to know that their children are in a safe, structured environment.”

That is where the Breakfast Club and programs like it come in and fill in the gap.

Very recently, I was able to work with the administrators at Shoreham Public School and the Breakfast Club to start a program there.

The program provides more than just a warm meal for the kids that need it. It also provides warm place and a little structure in the morning. It’s a good place to start your day. I know that when I was going to school eating properly was part of having a good day.

Most of our schools already have a snack program. This is good too. It provides the protein and energy boost students need to get through the day with the batteries fully charged. There is lots of science to back up the need for these types of programs.

Academic success was thought of before as something that was almost genetic. You were born smart or you weren’t. We know better now. The stress that hunger can create for a young growing mind over time can greatly reduce academic achievement. You need to be well to learn well.

Wellness means having a good mind. You can’t have a good mind on an empty stomach. You can’t have a good mind when you are sad or going through stress. Think of how hard it would be to fill out a crossword puzzle with a jumbo jet flying over your head constantly for hours. It maybe easy at first, but would get progressively harder as the hours rolled by.

That’s the type of pressure that a growing student faces when they are inhibited by stress over the academic year. Maybe a few students can do well under that scenario, but only due to great natural talent. Most kids need a more stable learning environment.

I’m glad this program is here. I’m hoping it stays and I’m hoping more programs like it are started. Our kids could use it. We would have better schools and many students in Downsview would have a better future.

By Matias de Dovitiis

The article was originally published in the Downsview Advocate.