Eat Local at the North Hamilton Community Health Centre Children's Breakfast Club

Many of the 96,000 Hamiltonians living in poverty are children. In the most crucial development stages of their lives, they do not have access to the nutritious sustenance that is required for healthy physical and mental growth, or social development. By contrast, breakfast programs not only ensure that children are well-fed before school in the morning; they also provide a positive space for learning and interaction. They are a key part of giving young students the best opportunity possible to benefit from their education and childhood years.

At St. Luke’s Anglican Parish Hall in Hamilton’s North End, students of Benetto Elementary School frequent a program run by the North Hamilton Community Health Centre. In a diverse and welcoming environment, they are offered fresh fruit, homemade muffins baked fresh by volunteers, cereal and sometimes even smoothies before heading to class. Parent and community volunteers, as well as a surprisingly rare paid coordinator of the program, usually arrive at 7am to allow students to eat and play at a relaxed and enjoyable pace.

Student Nutrition Programs (SNPs) in Hamilton rely on this sort of community support. The City of Hamilton, unlike Toronto, does not match the meagre funding provided for SNPs by the Ontario government through the Ministry of Child and Youth Services. If Hamilton is serious about striving to be “the best place to raise a child,” it needs to step up and offer its support.

Hamilton Eat Local wishes to lend a hand in offering locally grown fresh food offerings to students of various backgrounds and cultures. Fruit and dairy that’s grown and gathered in the Hamilton area will go into Operation Smoothie, one of the newest emerging SNP-oriented initiatives of Eat Local. To learn more or get involved with the project, please contact Karen Burson at

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