Today you’re reading one of the most important posts I’ll make. I can’t express how honored they asked if I’d like to be an ambassador for the 2015 Toonies for Tummies campaign. I thought I already knew about the program, that I “got” what they were doing. I was wrong though, and over the last month while putting this post together I was blown away by how successful and necessary this program was for our kids.
How can you help?
Donations are everything to this program. You can donate directly on the Toonies for Tummies site, or by donating in store between February 5 and 19, at one of 28 major retailers like Frescho, Longo’s, Metro, Sobeys, Vince’s Markets, and Rabba (see the full list of retailers and sponsors at the end of this post).
When you donate $2 at these stores, you’ll also receive a coupon book (image below) worth $11.25 in Ontario.
This year, the Toonies for Tummies Campaign has set a goal of $1,000,000, which would cover around 500,000 meals or snacks, just a small portion of what is actually served every year. Money donated locally, makes a difference locally, and you can also track your toonie on that site to see the difference you’re making in your own community.
The campaign benefits children across Canada, distributing 100% of the funds raised between the Ontario Student Nutrition Program, the Breakfast Club of Canada, Breakfast for Learning, and the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic Canada. The numbers are incredible when you see the program at a national level, and it’s true, this campaign funnels 100% of the money donated directly to the programs being run at the school level. The cost of running the program is covered by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, and within the schools it is maintained by the many incredible volunteers whose time is really making a difference.
How much of a difference?
I looked to my own community, Simcoe County, to find out.
Right here at home, 180 schools are benefiting, keeping 49,753 children well nourished throughout the school year. 49,753 children, when our total population is only around 450,000.
You might wonder how that’s possible. It’s possible because the programs don’t discriminate. This is the most important aspect to understand, because it ensures there is no shame in benefiting from it. Every child, in every school, has access.
The program varies from school to school as well, catered to the individual needs of it’s students. In some it’s a breakfast or lunch, in others (like my son’s) it’s a healthy snack. In Oliver’s class, there is a basket full of healthy food choices placed in his classroom every morning. Any child that finds themselves still hungry throughout the day is welcome to get a snack from the bin. This means that if a child was just extra hungry, or dodged breakfast at home, there’s something for them; and if I completely forgot to give Oliver a snack, he can grab one, and not sit hungry for the rest of the day.
Giving access to every child, means no child will feel singled out, and this is really important. It ensures that no child will ever feel shame or embarrassment from getting the nutrition they need and deserve.
Be generous (pretty please)
This program really makes a difference in how our children feel, behave, and excel throughout their days at school. A toonie goes a long surprisingly long way (It’s cost per child per day is only $0.55 for a snack, $0.85 for breakfast, and $2.00 for lunch).
In a study completed by the Toronto District School Board, it was shown that students with access to school nutrition programs had: improved student behaviour or attitude, reduced tardiness, reduced incidence of disciplinary problems, and improved ability to stay on task.
Even more importantly, children with poor nutrition in their formative years score significantly lower in vocabulary, reading comprehension, arithmetic, and general knowledge.
Life is busy for all of us, and some days ensuring our kids have exactly what they need can slip through the chaos. We are so lucky to live in communities where programs like this exist, but we have to support them to ensure they continue to grow with us.
Your toonie will make a difference!
To learn more, please join us all in a twitter chat:
TONIGHT – January 27 – 9pm EST!