Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Toonies For Tummies

This is a story about Kate*. 

Kate is a sweet, seven-year-old little girl. 

The school bell rings and it's time to go to class. While her classmates giggle and play tag until the teacher comes in to break up the fuss, Kate walks straight to her chair and sits down. She's tired and weak. 

And she's very hungry. 

Kate has barely eaten in a few days, but not by choice. Her parents struggle to make ends meet and much of their pay cheques go to pay bills and rent. They get by the best they can with what they're given. 

But sadly, it's not enough. 

Unfortunately, for many children living in Ontario, this is a stark reality. 1 in 6 Canadian children goes to school hungry**. One. In. Six. As a mother of two, I find this statistic to be utterly heartbreaking. 

How many times have you heard, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day"?

Hundreds? Thousands? 

Well, there's good reason for this. The word 'breakfast' literally means, 'breaking one's fast'. After a night's sleep, it's important as humans to recharge. Food is fuel; it's energy for our bodies. Without it, we can't function properly. We lose clarity. We get tired, cranky, and have little patience. 

Imagine a child, like Kate, expected go to school and perform at their best, yet having to deal with a rumbly belly all day and there is nothing he or she can do about it. They're hardly given a fair chance to show their potential. 

In Breakfast For Learning's 2012 annual report, it was estimated that over TWO MILLION Canadians are living in food insecure households. Many families are torn every month between paying rent or buying food

"Six-to eleven-year-old children from food-insufficient families had significantly lower arithmetic scores and were more likely to have repeated a grade. Families were classified as food-deficient if they self-reported as sometimes or often not having enough food to eat. In addition, food-insufficient teenagers were more likely to have been suspended from school, and children in this category were more likely to have seen a psychologist and to have experienced difficulty interacting with their peers."

"Morning fasting has a negative effect on cognitive performance, even among healthy, well-nourished children. A test of the speed and accuracy of response on problem-solving tasks given to children who did or did not eat breakfast found that skipping breakfast had an adverse influence on their performance on the tests."

However, there's hope. 

The Grocery Foundation and, a program I hold dear to my heart, Toonies For Tummies have been working closely with programs such as Breakfast Clubs of Canada and Breakfast For Learning to make vast improvements on student nutrition across Ontario.

In the 2012/2013 school year alone, these programs provided children and youth with over 40 MILLION nourishing breakfasts. In 2013, this number rose to 56 MILLION. 

They still need your help. 

“Canadians know there is a need and that programs exist, but beyond that, we’ve uncovered a black hole that we're intent on closing by connecting Canadians to the local programs and kids in their community who are making big strides enabled by a Toonie,” says Michelle Scott, Executive Director of the Grocery Foundation. 

As it stands, Canada is the currently the only G8 country without a national nutrition program in schools. Nutrition programs that currently exist are funded by sources such Breakfast For Learning and Breakfast Clubs of Canada, whose funding supports universal programs with every child within the school is eligible to attend. 

Here's how YOU can help:

From February 6th until February 20th, please donate $2 at participating supermarkets (see below) across Ontario and the Atlantic Provinces. All proceeds collected will be given to Breakfast For Learning and Breakfast Clubs of Canada programs which provide nutritious meals to children in schools. 

Photo Courtesy of Toonies For Tummies video,' Small Change, Big Change'.

Children are the future. These same people who will one day make a big difference in our country and in our world.  

When we nurture a body, we grow a mind. 

And a Toonie is a big step in the right direction.

'Toonies For Tummies' Participating Stores in Ontario and Atlantic Provinces:
• Colemans 
• Co-op Atlantic 
• Food Basics 
• Foodland 
• Freshco 
• Galati Market Fresh 
• Highland Farms 
• Longo's 
• Metro Ontario 
• Michael Angelo’s 
• Price Chopper 
• Rabba Fine Foods 
• Sobeys and more than 100 independent stores across Ontario and Atlantic Canada

*Kate that is depicted in this story is fictitious. 

**According to a 2011 report, Household Food Insecurity in Canada

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, nor is it sponsored, but I was asked to promote it as it's a campaign that is close to my heart. All thoughts, views, and opinions are all my own. 


  1. Jenny, this is wonderful and heartfelt. It also will help Canadians be more top of mind of an issue that We Can in fact change and impact with a TOONIE. thank you for being such a wonderful Ambassador! Gabby Nobrega, @gabbynPR

    1. Thank you so much, Gabby. It's so important that we spread the word for such an amazing program. A Toonie really does make a big difference. Thanks again for the opportunity! Xo

  2. With the average number of school days in Ontario for 2013 being 194, the 56 million served in 2013 works out to just over 288,656 children given at least one nourishing meal a day throughout the school year. These numbers are astonishing and somewhat disheartening to know that so many young children leave home for school with empty stomachs each day. Further disheartening is discovering the ironing in our country (Canada) being the only G8 member country without a national nutrition program in our schools yet we have a national standardized Canada Food Guide. Thank God for the four programs that work so hard to help give our children a good nutritious start to their school day! Your post brings such wonderful awareness to some fabulous projects that certainly deserve our attention. Thank you for taking the time to write and publish it.

    1. Thank you so much, Paula! It broke my heart when I learned these numbers. We are so blessed to live in such an incredible country where it's safe and comfortable, yet there are so many families that struggle. I once heard a statistic somewhere that some families are only two paycheques away from being homeless. It makes me that much more thankful for programs like these that helps out our littlest future stars. Xo