We had the chance to catch up with Rick Gosling, President and Founder of The Children’s Breakfast Clubs about how they provide local kids with nutritious, well-balanced breakfasts.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
At The Children’s Breakfast Clubs, we take a holistic approach to children’s breakfast times and address many of the community needs in disadvantaged locations across the Greater Toronto Area.
We do this by working with our community partners, such as schools, residents, organizations and agencies, to provide local kids with nutritious, well-balanced breakfasts, while encouraging children to develop healthy nutritional, behavioural and personal habits and providing emotional support and social and intellectual stimulation.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Even pre-pandemic, many homes in Toronto were food insecure. This problem has only been exacerbated by the new challenges the pandemic has thrown into the mix.
Health and nutritional professionals consider breakfast to be the most important meal of the day. If children don’t have the fuel they need to power their learning minds and growing bodies, their progress may be hindered and have impacts on their route in life.
To plug these food gaps in our city and beyond, The Children’s Breakfast Clubs operates at 28 community locations and with some of the GTA’s most disadvantaged and marginalized communities to ensure that our next generation is getting the nourishment they need for their development and to start the day on the right foot.
At the time of writing, we are able to feed 5,000 hungry children per week, but we know many more still need our support, and so we are always actively seeking new partnerships and support to grow the outreach of our community programs wherever possible.
When did you start/join it?
I founded The Children’s Breakfast Clubs back in 1982.
What made you want to get involved?
In the early ‘80s, I came to learn that many parents were heading off to work early in the morning, and with no one at home to prepare meals for their children, they would grab unhealthy items like chips, soda, or not eat or drink entirely.
It struck me that this is no way for a child to be starting their day; children need nourishment to be able to learn, grow and be at their best.
That’s what inspired me to launch The Children’s Breakfast Clubs that operate within communities that need this kind of support.
What was the situation like when you started?
In disadvantaged communities around the GTA, truancy rates were high, and children who were making it to school were arriving late.
Not having a nutritious meal really does start the day off on the wrong foot, and when children are skipping class regularly it can lead to knowledge gaps that could impact them later in life. We wanted to change this to give our local children the best chance at life.
How has it changed since?
We have 28 community locations where we provide 5,000 breakfasts per week to children who might otherwise go without.
Noticeably, when kids start to eat a proper hot breakfast, they make it to school on time and are ready to learn. There’s also been a significant decrease in children heading to the nurse’s office with tummy aches and unable to participate in school activities.
Going to school on a full tummy means they are fully engaged and ready to make the most of all opportunities and learning experiences that come their way.
What more needs to be done?
While we have breakfast covered, more needs to be done to enforce a lunch-focused program. Ensuring children are getting at least two meals will boost their chance at learning and growth even more.
For our breakfast program, we place a huge emphasis on ensuring the meal we provide is well-balanced. More needs to be done to ensure children have a well-balanced diet overall, too.
How can our readers help?
We rely on donations and funding goes a long way for us, as we don’t receive government support. Donations make our community programs possible.
We encourage volunteers to participate at our breakfast clubs to see firsthand where the funds are going.
Our volunteers also serve as role models for the children we provide breakfasts for, and we hope the volunteers open their eyes to what they could do and achieve when they grow up.
Do you have any events coming up?
TasteToronto and Burnbrae Farms have just kicked off a Dine with Eggs culinary collective in aid of The Children’s Breakfast Clubs. Readers can visit 30 of the participating Toronto restaurants and for every dish or drink crafted with a Burnbrae Farms’ egg on the menu, a fresh breakfast omelette will be donated to a school-aged child in some of the most disadvantaged communities locally who might otherwise go without breakfast.
Readers can check out more details about all of the restaurants involved to support The Children’s Breakfast Clubs here.
Where can we follow you?
You can visit our website to discover volunteer opportunities and learn about other ways to support our cause.
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
The Second Chance Scholarship Foundation is a charitable organization that believes all youth have potential, and if given the opportunity to succeed academically, can become educated, responsible and contributing members of society.