A number of years ago, a group of local Pastors who had committed to serving their city together instead of apart (a group we now refer to as “One Church”) invited Mayor Chris Friel to a lunch meeting. They had one main question on their mind. They wanted to know if he could pick something that he’d like them, and their congregations, to take on as an en masse project. They weren’t really sure what his answer would be. Friel began to talk about his passion for elementary school kids and expressed a desire that none go to school hungry.
This began an a renewed initiative over the last few years to increase “One Church’s” purposeful involvement in school breakfast programs. Breakfast programs in schools across the city take on different forms, some being autonomous initiatives while others partner with great organizations like Brant Food for Thought. At Freedom House, we took the plunge into the early morning school breakfast world this year, partnering with another local church who had been previously doing it on their own. We work alongside Brant Food for Thought to make sure that students at Princess Elizabeth School have a full, healthy breakfast every day.
But then the rubber met the road for my family. It’s one thing to espouse ideals and tout grandiose philosophies, but it’s another to actually get up before the sun to serve breakfast to a other people’s kids each morning, while doing the same for your own too. None of us can say “yes” to everything that’s put in our path’s when it comes to community service… but we should always consider that we DO have the capacity to do LOTS just by saying “yes” and doing it. So we said yes.
Since September, on Tuesdays and Thursdays my whole family (which includes my wife, my 3 kids, my parents and others closely connected to our family) get up at 6:30am to prepare for the day. We arrive at our neighbourhood school at 7:30 to set up tables, cut cucumbers, boil eggs, pour cereal and even pray for the school before the hectic school day starts. Then we serve breakfast to about 60 kids every morning. Sure there can be squabbles and spills, but for the most part, it’s a stunningly smooth morning with kids that are very thankful for the breakfast laid before them.
I expected that my kids might complain about the early mornings. But they don’t. It does a father’s heart proud to see his children serving others so passionately. But for them, it’s not just “others.” It’s their friends, classmates and peers. I’ve had a very important lesson reinforced in my heart doing this program this year. There are no “others.” “Others” are our neighbours. We CAN make a genuine difference in the lives of our neighbors and neighbourhoods when our eyes are open to needs… and we have a “Yes” in our spirit when it comes to those “rubber meets the road… am I going to do something about this?” moments.
There is nothing glamorous about doing a breakfast program. It’s just an hour and a half of exactly what you’d expect when 60 kids are eating in a gym. But the healthy head-start that these programs provide are giving kids in our neighbourhoods a honest-to-goodness leg up on their educational day. If you have a hour and a half a couple mornings a week, get ahold of your neighbourhood school and see how you can help out. You can learn more or make a financial contribution at brantfoodforthought.ca