Every Day 1, students at Marc Garneau C.I. are greeted by the welcome sight of snack bins.
The Student Nutrition Program, also known as the snack bin program, has been providing students with a quick and nutritious breakfast to start off their day since 2009.
On Day 1s, snack bins are set up in the cafeteria for Period 1 classes to pick up, each containing a variety of dietician-approved foods ranging from cereal and milk to apples and bagels. Since the beginning of the new year, the school has also facilitated a “Grab ‘n’ Go” program during the first two periods on Day 2s. Snacks are laid out on the cafeteria stage, and students are able to pick food up of their own accord. This new initiative is meant to ensure that students go into their morning classes with a full stomach, regardless of the date.
The school created the snack program because many students at Garneau do not have access to a proper breakfast on a daily basis. Eating a healthy breakfast everyday is essential, especially for adolescents; students who eat breakfast daily are more attentive and energetic, and have stronger academic performance than those who do not . In addition, adolescents who regularly eat breakfast are more likely to carry these eating habits into their adult lives.
The choice of snacks is more of a precise science than one might expect; the food items are prepared with exact serving sizes in mind. Through measures such as the PPM150 policy, the Government of Ontario ensures that the food given out in schools is healthy and nutritious. The administration and staff at Marc Garneau dedicate a significant amount of time and effort into the program, all to the benefit of students at the school. A survey of one hundred ninety-five MGCI students reveals the popularity of the program, as well as its necessity: 94% of students enjoy the snack bin program, and 34% rely on the program for breakfast on most school days. 58% of respondents said they would even be willing to donate two dollars per month to have snack on Day 2s, and more than a third of students are willing to volunteer to make the program everyday. For many students, the snack program is an invaluable resource—it provides them with a breakfast they would not otherwise have.
MGCI’s administration and staff have sustained the snack program for the past eight years, and do not anticipate any major changes in the near future. The program will continue as it currently is, with Day 1 snack bins and Day 2s’ Grab ‘n’ Go format. However, as Ms. O’Flynn-Wheeler puts it, “Anything’s possible.” Whatever the future brings, the snack bin program will continue to be a staple of Garneau culture.