There’s no way to say whether young people lining up for the food program at Journey Middle School would have the opportunity for breakfast at home.
The program has no means test and some children come to the program just because the food is tasty and there’s a social aspect to the morning meal.
Others are there because they’re hungry.
“We have 50, 60, 70 kids a day coming in for breakfast. There’s a lineup out the door when it’s pancake day,” Shelley Crowley said.
Crowley is an educational assistant at the school and for the past six years she’s been the driving force behind the breakfast program. Five days a week, she starts her day by fixing breakfast for every child who wants it.
“Sometimes the children don’t get breakfast at home. Some are coming from [Port Renfrew] and leaving the house at 6 a.m. so by the time they get here, they’re hungry,” Crowley said.
Gerry St. Laurent of the Sooke Lions Club said before the program started there were kids who weren’t coming to school and if they came they couldn’t concentrate and their behaviour wasn’t that good.
That’s not the case anymore.
On Tuesday, St. Laurent was on hand at the school to ensure the delivery of a new stove to the school, courtesy of the Sooke Lions Club.
“The stove we had … well, it had a couple of burners that didn’t work. The timer didn’t work either and the stove really needed to be replaced. We asked the Lions for help and they came through for us again,” Crowley said.
The support of the Lions club has been pivotal to the breakfast program’s success.
Working in conjunction with the Sooke Food Bank and some corporate support from outlets like Cobb’s Bread, St. Laurent ensures the supplies of cereal, bread, eggs, pancake mix and more are delivered to the school every week.
“I’ll be delivering mandarin oranges soon,” St. Laurent said.
The club has also helped out by buying a dishwasher for the program and is now expanding its efforts by providing muffins and fruit to Edward Milne Community School, St. Laurent said.
“I also think we may be trying to start something at Saseenos (Elementary School), because they have a lot of the same problems,” he added.
Sooke School District’s superintendent Scott Stinson recognized the value of the community’s support and the efforts of the staff who volunteer to deliver programs like the one at Journey Middle School.
“What we’re seeing used to be a phenomenon everywhere where more and more kids were arriving with no breakfast,” Stinson said.
“The challenge for us is that we haven’t a lot of money we can contribute. But we’re grateful to the donations from the community that make the programs possible and we try to support those programs where we can. You just can’t learn on an empty stomach.”