As part of National Indigenous Peoples Day June 21, a Canadian organization wants to draw attention to the fact one in two Aboriginal students are at risk of going to school hungry.
This is about double the number of non-Indigenous students.
Breakfast Club of Canada provides nutritious meals to school children across the country free of charge and on a daily basis.
Robin Ryan is a senior advisor for the organization and he says affordable access to healthy foods is a major issue for Indigenous children living in remote communities.
“The further you get away from those kinds of strong areas – the food hubs – where distribution is easy and food is affordable, you run into access,” he says. “How do you access fresh fruits and vegetables at affordable prices? Things like milk, dairy products, and you have to turn more towards shelf table items.”
Breakfast Club of Canada provides nutritious meals to roughly 4,000 Indigenous children in 40 different schools in Saskatchewan every morning.
Ryan says one of the areas the organization has recently expanded to is the northern community of La Loche.
“We have partnered with the community of La Loche in northern Saskatchewan to open programs in all three of the schools there. So that every youth in that community has access to a nutritious and healthy breakfast.”
Other communities served in Saskatchewan include La Ronge, North Battleford, Duck Lake, Prince Albert, Regina and Saskatoon.
Breakfast Club of Canada is a non-profit organization, which relies solely on corporate support for funding.
Corporate sponsors in Saskatchewan include SSR Mining and Next Gen.
Nationally, the organization serves a total of 42,000 Indigenous students daily in 199 different programs.
Nevertheless, Breakfast Club of Canada says a total of 150 schools serving Indigenous students are currently waiting for programs due to a lack of funding.
For this reason, Ryan says the organization is looking to expand its sponsorship base to include government sources.
A recent report says the federal ridings with the highest child poverty rates in the nation are the Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River riding in Saskatchewan and the Churchill Keewatinook Aski riding in Manitoba.
Both ridings are in northern parts of these provinces and have high Indigenous populations.
(PHOTO: Child drinking milk. Photo courtesy of www.breakfastclubcanada.org)