Blog

January 7, 2015

A visit with the breakfast program at First Nations Junior and Senior School of Toronto

IMG_3882 On December 15, 2014, An Richardson, Program Director of ONEXONE’s First Nations School Breakfast Program and Denis Sacks, Founding Member and Current Chair of the PepsiCo Foundation and Senior Director of Franchise Bottling Operations for PepsiCo Beverages, were treated to a visit with the First Nations Junior and Senior School of Toronto, to check out their outstanding breakfast program. The First Nations Junior and Senior School of Toronto, part of the Toronto District School Board, has an enrollment of approximately 95 students and transports students from across the city, with the exception of Scarborough and Etobicoke. An and Denis arrived at 8 a.m., to the school on Toronto’s east side. Before the children arrived, Celeste Mayers and “Miss Sue”, who run the breakfast program, gave An and Denis a rundown of how the breakfast is prepared. What they learned was that the school runs much more than just a breakfast program. As Celeste and Sue described it, the children at the school receive two free meals a day, breakfast and lunch, and two snacks, all healthy and made from scratch according to Health Canada’s Aboriginal Food Guide. IMG_3851 A menu revealed the variety of nutritional lunches, which changes each month, according to what fruits and vegetables are in season. The menu for December included vegetable soup and baked bannock for lunch one day, with spaghetti and meat balls and homemade pizza other days. IMG_3862IMG_3888 The children started to arrive between 8:30 and 9:00 and were offered their choice of freshly made porridge, fruit, fruit juice and cereal. The breakfast was well attended, about 20-30 of the school’s 95 children were there, happily enjoying their breakfasts. After the children ate and went to class, Celeste took An and Denis on a tour of the school’s other impressive programs and the facilities. The First Nations Junior and Senior School of Toronto is unique in that Anishinaabe values, spirituality, culture and Ojibway language are integrated throughout the school curriculum. The goal is to ensure that urban children will have the opportunity to learn about their heritage and the traditional Anishinaabe cultural perspective. For example, Celeste showed An and Denis the school’s “worm hotel” where organics are broken down by worms and then used to fertilize the garden and hydroponic growing stations, of which the school has two, one on each floor. As Celeste explained, learning about composting and growing food is an important part of the children’s education and the school’s program to foster and respect First Nations traditions. As Celeste said, “it’s important that the children learn that everything is connected. That if we look after our Mother Earth, she’ll look after us.” IMG_3906 In one class room An, Denis and Celeste visited, students were smudging using sage and making decorations for an upcoming Winter Solstice celebration. Denis was excited to see firsthand, how Anishinaabe traditions are being fostered and taught at the school. PepsiCo, through its partnership with ONEXONE, provides the school with an in-kind donation of QuakerDole products, such as oats, breakfast bars and juice. Denis, as a representative of PepsiCo, was happy to see that their donations are being put to such good use. IMG_3919 Click here to see more photos from the visit.

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