Students at Dartmouth High School are concerned about how their breakfast program will continue to operate, as teachers across Nova Scotia prepare for work-to-rule job action.
“Students really do heavily rely on it. About 30 to 40 every day come to our program, that’s almost 200 meals a week,” said Claire Graham, a Grade 12 student at Dartmouth High and one of the operators of the breakfast program.
In Nova Scotia, 90 per cent of all schools now operate a breakfast program. Last year, five million meals were served to students ranging from elementary to high school.
Provincial funding is provided to all schools who participate in the program, but how each school chooses to operate their breakfast club is up to them. In some cases, teachers and other school staff help to run the program.
With work-to-rule job action slated to start on Dec. 5, there will be no sports, extracurricular activities or Christmas concerts. Unionized teachers will not be collecting money from students, do any clerical duties or data entry.
Teachers also won’t be arriving at school until 20 minutes before classes start.
That means students like Graham have a fraction of the time they need to organize their breakfast program.
“It’s really hard because we can’t even get into the school until 8:10 a.m. Which means we can’t set it up until 8:10 and it takes about ten minutes to set up and our warning bell to get to class rings at 8:25 a.m., which give the students only 5 minutes,” said Graham.
Those who use the breakfast program say it’s vital.
“Because my mom, she’s a single mom and she has both me and my brother and we just don’t have a lot of time in the mornings,” said Mikayla Stewart, who is in Grade 12. “The breakfast club is really solid to have.”
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Students say being able to get breakfast at school helps them start their day off right and concentrate in class.
“A lot of times I will just grab a bagel or some toast or something from the breakfast program and that will get me through until lunch, because I find it really hard to work on an empty stomach,” said Sydney Brimicombe, a Grade 12 student.
Students say they want to make it clear – although they are concerned about their breakfast program, they do not blame teachers for taking job action.
“Right now, I’m looking for the government to start listening to the students. Really listen to us,” said Graham.
“We know our teachers, we love our teachers, they’re great. They’ve always been great. They do so much for our school. So much more than just teach in a classroom.”
A province-wide walk out is being planned for Friday afternoon by students in an effort to show solidarity and support for their teachers.
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