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Local breakfast programs are doing more than just ensuring kids have a good start to the day.

Marlo Hildebrand oversees the initiative at Gretna Elementary School, which feeds between 30 and 40 kids each weekday, and says it's not just for kids that don't get enough food at home. She explained the opportunity is open for every student at the school to start their day with a healthy bite to eat.

gretna elementary breakfastpgm2 submittedHildebrand says every student at the school has the opportunity to start their day with a healthy bite to eat."We want to keep it a universally accessible program...because kids are hungry for different reasons," said Hildebrand.

While some kids don't have breakfast available to them at home, Hildebrand notes others eat too early in the morning and are hungry again by the time they arrive at school. Others use that half an hour as an opportunity to socialize with their friends before class.

"I think that's actually the reason many of them come because it's a great way to start their day visiting with their friends."

She added, research also indicates that students starting their day with something good to eat will help them be successful in the classroom.

Meantime, the school's breakfast program is also treated as an opportunity for students to volunteer and support something that is important.

Hildebrand said there is always a group of kids eager to help each morning whether it's preparing the food by baking muffins, peeling oranges and shelling hard boiled eggs, or serving their peers.

She added the larger school community, including parents and grandparents, is also becoming more aware of the breakfast program and have expressed interest in not only learning more but how they can help out.

While the initiative is partially funded through an annual grant from the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba, Hildebrand noted that support was reduced slightly for this year and said any additional support from the community is appreciated. The school purchases about $200 in groceries per month in order to run the breakfast program.

Breakfast programs are run at numerous other local schools in the area including Ecole West Park School and Rosenfeld Elementary.

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