Students in Richer are sharing their thoughts on the school’s breakfast program, and the comments are rather insightful. 

Through the program, students have easy access to foods such as muffins, fruit and yogurt to help them get through the day. 

Principal Mark Eismendi says there was a variety of responses from a class of students ages seven to nine. 

“One of the things they said was that it's great that they don't have to worry. They feel that security that they know they don't have to worry if they forgot a lunch, or if there was a rush or there just wasn't enough food in the fridge this week. They know that they're taken care of here.”

Five young students hold up their snacks of cheese, apples and carrots.Students at Richer School know they can depend on daily snacks to help get them through the day. (Photo submitted)

Eismendi notes some students eat breakfast at home by around 6:30am before they go to daycare or board the school bus. Then when they get to school, students are often hungry before their first class. 

He shares a couple more comments that students made about the breakfast program. 

“It means that they're part of a nice school that takes care of people and it gives them some pride being part of richer school, which is great to hear. Another one, which we're very happy to hear, although maybe a little bit surprised, is that it helps them make healthy choices. And that's coming straight from the students. They see that we are offering them healthy options and that helps set up healthy routines for them and (helps form) healthy eating habits.” 

The program in Richer is set up in such a way that all students have easy access to these foods and there is no judgement from anyone about who accesses the program or why. If they are hungry, they grab some food.

A male youth eating an apple in the school hallway.There are healthy snacks for students at Richer School, offered through the breakfast program. (Photo submitted)

“We do our best with the funding that we have to offer healthy choices and to offer all four food groups,” Eismedi says. “And we've been very fortunate this year to have a lot of support from several organizations that have contributed to our breakfast program. It's really become, I think, something that is consistent and stable and a part of the culture here at Richer School. So, the students know that it's dependable, they can count on it.” 

Eismendi says the breakfast program has become an important part of the school community. 

“It's wonderful to see the community that it builds here, and I think that the staff work incredibly hard to provide students with, not just the essentials that they need to make sure that they are cared for and fit and ready to learn, but also the immense effort that goes in by all the staff members to provide those great experiential opportunities for kids. Not every kid out in a rural school has access maybe to go play on the hockey team or a softball team or a dance program and things like that. So, the staff here have to work really hard to create those extracurricular opportunities for students so that they can have some of those life experiences here at school and then they can find their passions, some new habits, some new talents and things like that.  

“So, the breakfast program is just another component to creating a strong sense of community and hopefully wellness, and by the sounds of it from the kids, even some pride as far as being part of Richer School.” 

Two teachers cut muffins in half.Staff at Richer School prepare muffins for students to snack on while they get to their first class of the day. (Photo submitted)

Eismendi says they are grateful for the support they get in running the breakfast program. He notes funding comes from various organizations, charities and government. 

The province recently announced more funding for nutrition programs in Manitoba schools. The Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba has been working with the government to create a universal meal program for schools throughout the province.