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Breakfast Club of Canada sets up emergency fund to feed children who normally get meals at school

The Breakfast Club of Canada has set up an emergency fund amid the COVID-19 crisis. Thursday, March 26, 2020.
The Breakfast Club of Canada has set up an emergency fund amid the COVID-19 crisis. Thursday, March 26, 2020. Courtesy of Breakfast Club Of Canada

The Breakfast Club of Canada has set up an emergency fund to support Canadian children facing food insecurity across the country during the coronavirus crisis.

The emergency fund will help the organization reach the 250,000 children who no longer have access to the meals it provides and that they rely on when they go to school.

“We’ll focus on food-insecure households with children across Canada, including those in Indigenous communities,” said Tommy Kulczyk, the general manager of the Breakfast Club of Canada.

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In Quebec alone, there are 383 programs making sure 32,000 children are fed every morning before they start class. But those are no longer in operation because of mandatory school closures.

“The situation is extremely urgent at this point,” Kulczyk told Global News. “The government’s decision to close schools and what’s not essential… not everybody has the funds to go through a situation like that.”

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According to Kulczyk, the organization requires at least $5 million to meet the current needs.

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“We know it’s more than that,” Kulczyk told Global News.

The non-profit has set up a special grants program for community organizations and schools.

In the past few days, requests for financial support have poured in.

In total, 113 organizations across Canada have requested a total of $7 million in financial help so far.

Almost half of those organizations are Quebec-based.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to reach everyone,” Kulczyk says.

“The most important thing is to co-ordinate the efforts in order to reach everybody so no one is left to fend for themselves.”

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The organization has currently raised $1.2 million with the help of its corporate partners as well as individual donations.

READ MORE: Quebec seeks volunteers during health crisis as coronavirus deaths climb to 8

The non-profit mobilized to get all the perishable items it had in stock to its partner organizations in order to ensure distribution.

It is currently working with food banks and other local resources to help distribute “grab & go” bags containing basic food items.

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Drop-off zones have been identified and communicated through school districts, so families know when and where to access these pickup locations.

“These bags will be distributed in a way that encourages social distancing and prevents unnecessary congregation,” the Breakfast Club of Canada says.

But Kulczyk says so much more needs to be done.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Montreal boroughs donate more than $1M to Centraide emergency fund

He says the non-profit is also in talks with all levels of government to make sure no child is hungry during this crisis.

“We don’t want our kids to go on an empty belly,” Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said in a press conference on Wednesday.

Centraide’s executive director Lili-Anna Pereša says neighbourhood tables will also play a role in identifying and supporting efforts to keep children and their parents well fed.

“We’re all in this together; we all can make a difference,” Kulczyk said.

The Breakfast Club of Canada is accepting donations through its website.

Its partner organizations are also looking for volunteers.