“It’s the best start to my day. I look forward to it every morning,” said Ucluelet Elementary School cultural support worker Adam Gleeson after helping serve 27 kids a healthy breakfast on Wednesday morning.
Since the start of the school year, Gleeson alongside Nuu-chah-nulth education worker and UES breakfast program founder Jason Sam have provided over 800 students with a well-balanced breakfast.
The number of students fed are up this year, notes Sam, but with community support they are able to offer a large buffet: local eggs from Reg and Kelly, fresh fruit, yogurt and granola, milk and dairy free milk alternatives, oatmeal, smoothies, and multigrain toast with organic sunflower seed butter.
“It feels great to help out,” said Kelly Deakin, who also donates a portion of her art sales to the program. “I raised four kids on my own so I know how hard it can be to have a good start.”
Some of the kids said they don’t have time in the morning to eat breakfast. Their school bus arrives at UES at 8:25 a.m. and the bell rings for first period at 8:40 a.m., leaving breakfast program volunteers about 20-minutes to get them fed.
“They handle the flow well and we try to get them as much protein as we can,” said Sam.
Food Bank on the Edge Society supports the program with money, food, and gift cards to buy food at the Co-op. Retired district staff and Food Bank treasurer Barb Millar volunteers two days a week.
“It’s nice to know the kids go to class having had a nutritious meal,” said Millar.
Udo Lerch, owner of the Floathouse Patio and Grill, is etched in to assist with breakfast on Friday mornings now that his restaurant is closed for the winter. He said he is looking forward to serving the kids “simple, basic and delicious food.” His restaurant also donated $4,000 to the UES and USS breakfast programs this year.
Ucluelet Secondary now offers a cooked breakfast once per week.
“A breakfast sandwich with egg, that students can take to go. It’s a huge hit,” said Sam.
Both breakfast programs are free to all UES and USS students. The UES program feds about 3,300 kids annually. If parents need to go to work early, Sam said they can send their child up to the UES kitchen just after 8:00 a.m.
“A shout out to all the awesome volunteers who come to prepare and cook breakfast,” he said.
Anyone interested in volunteering or making a donation is encouraged to contact Sam at: 250-726-7796.