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Participation in Sudbury-based student nutrition program almost doubles

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A student nutrition program in Sudbury Manitoulin is serving almost three million meals per school year.

Officials with Better Beginnings Better Futures said there are more elementary and secondary students participating than ever and it needs more funding to meet demand.

Two Grade 6 students at St. David School we talked to said getting a nutritious start to their day with breakfast helps them tackle their day of learning.

“It really helps me so I don’t stay starving for the whole entire lesson. And plus it helps me concentrate, too, because whenever I am hungry I don’t concentrate or like do anything good,” said Grade 6 student Gerard Omonemu.

“If I go to class and I am hungry, I honestly can’t focus properly or I am just thinking of what am I going to eat or what I am going to eat,” said another Grade 6 student, Elizabeth Akintobi.

“But the breakfast always helps me have something like give me energy to do anything.”

Stephanie Boyuk is a 13-year volunteer with the student nutrition program at Better Beginnings, Better Futures in Sudbury. (Alana Everson/CTV News)

Officials with Better Beginnings Better Futures said participation in the student nutrition program has almost doubled since the pandemic.

The non-profit recently asked the provincial government for $500,000 to sustain and enhance the program.

“For food for infrastructure such as fridges and equipment for schools and other supports like distribution and getting the food into the schools and volunteer support,” said Angele Young, regional manager of student nutrition for Better Beginnings Better Futures.

Stephanie Boyuk, who has been volunteering with the program for 13 years, said a good breakfast is a boost to learning.

Helps students emotionally

“I also feel it helps them emotionally handle various emotions they might have throughout the day because they are not focused on their little hunger cues,” said Stephanie Boyuk.

School officials said there is also the aspect of community since students eat together.

“Eating together you do share a special bond and so that it’s really important not only for that concept of building community, but also for the mental health component of it,” said Dawn Wemigwans, principal of St. David School.

“You start your day, you feel good, you have a full belly of food, you are happy

The Better Beginnings Better Futures Student Nutrition Program is in 91 schools across Sudbury Manitoulin with more than 19,000 students participating each day.

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