The UES Breakfast Program offers students like Amadeous, 9, free and healthy meal options to start their day. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Community support fuels UES breakfast program

Volunteers and school staff serve about 3,300 healthy meals per year.

Thursday morning at 8:15 a.m., as it regularly does each weekday throughout the school year, Ucluelet Elementary School’s Breakfast Program served a healthy morning meal to approximately 25 hungry students.

From French toast and an assortment of cereals to hot oatmeal and berry smoothies, the kids were delighted to start their day with a choice of free, nutritious food before jetting off to class.

“I like the hot mush best,” said nine-year-old Amadeous.

“It feels good and you don’t have to be hungry all day.”

Breakfast program co-ordinator Jason Sam said about 3,300 meals are served every year at a cost of one dollar per meal.

“We get about 20-minutes to feed the kids. It’s a crazy fun rush. I’ve seen a huge difference in some of the kids since starting the program four years ago,” he said.

While a large amount their funding comes from SD 70 and a President’s Choice Breakfast for learning grant, Sam said it’s the efforts of local volunteers and community support that keeps his breakfast kitchen buzzing.

CIBC donates the proceeds from their book sales to the program, and staffers show up on Thursdays to help with meal service.

“The kids are my favourite. They are so well-mannered and it’s a good way to start the morning,” said CIBC representative Morgan Palframan.

Last year, Water’s Edge donated $1,500. Food Bank on the Edge regularly contributes food and gift cards, and local farmers like Reg and Kelly supply fresh eggs.

A wedding party even donated the money raised from their ‘kissing jar’ to the program one year.

Betty Winpenny comes in on Wednesdays to help feed the kids.

“It’s my most enjoyable morning of the week. They’re just so sweet. They just brighten your day,” she said.

The breakfast program is open to all UES students.

“Just show up if you’re hungry,” said Sam, adding that if parents need to go to work early, they are welcome to send their child up to the UES kitchen.

Anyone interested in making a donation the UES Breakfast Program over the holidays is encouraged to swing by the RE/MAX Ucluelet office (109-1917 Peninsula Road) until Dec. 22.

They have a special tree set-up in honour of the program.

Tax receipts are also available upon request.

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