Feeding Tummies, Building Communities

Established in 1984, The Children's Breakfast Club has decades of experience in helping children develop their potential by nurturing their bodies and spirits.  Famous alumni include the Raptors' Assistant Coach Jamaal Magloire and CBC Toronto's Dwight Drummond.  Rick Gosling told us how it all got started...
With a background in social work and theology, Rick Gosling was sensitive to the needs of struggling communities, so in 1984 he decided to help hungry kids by establishing a breakfast club in the Jane and Falstaff area of Toronto.  Eight or nine children of working mother-led families constituted the initial group and the goal was to provide these children with a healthy breakfast to reduce the adverse effects of hunger such as behavioural problems, limited attention span, truancy and frequent tardiness, to provide a safe place for parents to leave their children when they went to work, and a warm and caring environment where the children would feel safe and supported.  Rick was shocked by how hungry some of the kids were - one little guy ate 26 pancakes in one sitting!
The program proved to be a huge success and expanded quickly to run 5 days per week, serving up to 60 children.  The police, fire and ambulance staff in the area were immediately on board as supporters, with then police head Julian Fantino directing the foot patrol officers to accompany Rick into stores and restaurants to explain the urgent need for food donations.  The Children's Breakfast Club have maintained close ties with these groups ever since, participating in the police float for various parades such as Carribana, Pride and St. Patrick's Day, with EMS reciprocating through hands-on help in various Children's Breakfast Club events.
The early success of these programs launched an operational model still in use today: one that is volunteer and private donation driven, with community leaders who ensure the meals are culturally appropriate and that the club environment is like an extension of home.  Of every dollar donated, $0.87 goes towards feeding children.  Administrative costs are covered by donations of facilities and services by American Express, and children pay $0.25 per meal on an honour system basis so they/their families can feel respected for their contributions.  Parents are encouraged to participate in whatever ways they can, and outsiders are welcome to come in and cook for the kids.  In this way, the individual Breakfast Club locations become an integrated part of each community.
Due to the decline of small industries and a lack of local infrastructure, poverty in rural areas has become more extreme, in some cases worse than what is seen in inner city areas.  Recognizing growing needs, Children's Breakfast Clubs has expanded their operations into communities outside of the GTA, such as Peterborough, Coburn, Cobourg, Hastings and Roseneath.  Need in these communities goes beyond food so a drive for winter coats was started, 55,000 of which have been distributed with the assitance of the RCMP and Carquest Auto Parts.  Gently used toys and sports equipment have also been collected and distributed.  The end result has been children playing and succeeding at school instead of fighting and struggling due to the effects of hunger and inadequate nutrition.
Caring, sharing and respect are key values for Children's Breakfast Club, demonstrated in the events they host for their child clients. An annual Christmas Gala held at the Liberty Grand provides each child with two gifts: one to keep, and one to give to someone else (see video below).  The annual spring event held at 1 King Street West recognizes individual children for their acts of kindness during the year.
The Children's Breakfast Club welcomes support and donations of all kinds: volunteer time, food, clothing, equipment including school supplies and old computers, and more.