The Breakfast Program at Revelstoke schools started in 2018. (Submitted)

The Breakfast Program at Revelstoke schools started in 2018. (Submitted)

Revelstoke free breakfast program feeding 54% more students this year

Program says the increase is due to a growing program, not necessarily growing need

More than 24,000 breakfasts have been served to Revelstoke students since last September.

“Kids are relying on the program to get through their day,” said Melissa Hemphill, coordinator of the Breakfast Program.

The program is feeding approximately 367 students per day in the five Revelstoke schools, which is an increase from 200 last year. Already, more meals have been provided this year than last year.

Volunteers helping at the Breakfast Program in previous years. (Submitted)

While the data is striking, Hemphill said the increase is a reflection of the program adapting and growing, not necessarily of rising need.

Rather than having students ask for breakfast, students are offered the food in classrooms. This way, Hemphill said, students are given an opportunity to say yes or no without any indication as to whether or not they need the food.

“It’s really difficult to measure need.”

According to the province, yearly median family incomes in Revelstoke are slightly below (four per cent) the B.C. average of $93,013.

READ MORE: BREAKING: B.C. expands mandatory mask rules in schools, rolls out ‘rapid response teams’

The aim of the Breakfast Program is to reduce barriers for students to access food and eat healthily. Options can include bagels, yogurt and fruit.

“Hungry kids can’t learn,” Hemphill said.

There are many reasons, she said, why kids might need breakfast at school that are not necessarily based on low-income households.

Perhaps the students rode their bikes to school and are hungry again or they were late and did not have time to eat at home.

“Options for healthy food is part of a thriving community,” said Hemphill.

While the number of students accessing the program have increased, food expenses are down, largely due to business donations.

For example, the Big Eddy Pub donates baked goods and fruit bought in bulk. The restaurant also provides schools with lunches at approximately $1.50 per portion.

“We couldn’t do it without them,” said Hemphill.

In the past, the program had roughly 40 volunteers. However, with COVID safety protocols, there are few unpaid helpers.

“It’s a bummer that we no longer can have kids develop a relationship with volunteering adults that care.”

The Breakfast Program started in 2018.

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Volunteers helping at the Breakfast Program in previous years. (Submitted)

Volunteers helping at the Breakfast Program in previous years. (Submitted)

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