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Ottawa community pulls together to feed hungry kids

By Mary Huang on September 23, 2016


Post by Mary Huang

Imagine how difficult it would be to concentrate on learning when your stomach is growling with hunger.

Would you be able to concentrate and listen to the teachers or would you be preoccupied with the needs of your body? Studies have shown that students who are given nutritious breakfasts daily make significant improvements in learning, school attendance, behaviour, engagement and self-esteem.

Fundraisers this weekend and next will give Ottawans the chance to support Ottawa’s School Breakfast Program while enjoying meals prepared by acclaimed local chefs.

The Ottawa Network for Education (ONFE) – Réseau d’Ottawa pour l’éducation works with education, business, government and community partners to develop 40+ programs that enrich public education in Ottawa. One of the featured programs for ONFE is Ottawa’s School Breakfast Program, which ensures that children in need have access to a healthy breakfast in a safe, supervised environment.

“I see the difference our breakfast club makes to my students’ learning and general well-being. They work much better if they can eat something at the start of the day. Once their nutritional needs are satisfied, the students are able to focus on work and play,” commented one grade 4 teacher.


The School Breakfast Program supported 177 local schools last year and over 13,700 children in the Ottawa area. Last school year, the program provided approximately 2.5 million breakfasts to feed hungry kids. The number of schools has increased to 186 school out of about 300 schools in the Ottawa Area this new school year, so the numbers would likely rise close to 14,000 kids. This is a huge increase from the 25 schools and 1,000 kids in 1990.

A healthy and nutritional breakfast cost about $1 per meal and the program had a budget about $2.5 million last year. This cannot be done without a lot of groups in the community pitching in and run third party fundraising events to support the School Breakfast Program. Carolyn Hunter, the Director of Ottawa School Breakfast Program at ONFE said that similar to the old proverb “it takes a village to raise a child”, it takes the community to feed the kids.

Real Canadian Superstore Orleans store manager Chris Wojcik heard of the need and talked to the store managers for Westboro Hiep Trieu and Kanata Billy Faubert about doing fundraisers. The Orleans store is running a Ribfest on October 1 headed by PC Cooking School coordinator Keith Garrison. We have been informed Kanata Store with coordinator Peter Pusechel is planning an event later in October.

The first fundraiser on the calendar for the School Breakfast Program is the Westboro store with coordinator Mary Kosta running a Charity Restaurant on September 24th and 25th to support this important cause.

Chef Mary Kosta preparing for the Charity Restaurant fundraiser at PC Cooking School Westboro. Photo by Skye Marshall.

Chef Mary Kosta preparing for the Charity Restaurant fundraiser at PC Cooking School Westboro. Photo by Skye Marshall.

Mary Kosta is a trained Chef de Cuisine et Patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu in London, UK. With her assistant Skye Marshall and some volunteers on the weekend such as Algonquin College student Kenny Lum, the fundraiser will offer a meal with a choice of 3 menus from Asian Fusion, Roast Beef Comfort Classic, and Greek Meze Platter, as well as a choice of 4 desserts including triple chocolate cake, strawberries & cream cake, carrot cake or baklava plus a drink for the $15 cash admission with proceed going to support the School Breakfast Program. Additional donation to ONFE would be accepted to help and feed more kids in need.

Mary, with her Greek heritage, values kids, family and community. With some help in making the local connections, student(s) from the Food Services Training Program at the Ottawa Mission started by Chef Ric Watson will be helping out with the Charity Restaurant this weekend.

It would be great if we can organize more groups to come out to the fundraiser at PC Cooking School at Real Canadian Superstore where you can enjoy some good food, hopefully some good company and support a great cause, the School Breakfast Program.

For more information to volunteer or support the School Breakfast Program and other programs at ONFE please call 613 366-3085 or visit their website.

Reservation for the Charity Restaurant at PC Cooking School Westboro would be available for half the 48 seat “restaurant” for September 24 and September 25 at 11:30, 12:30, 1:30, or 2:30. Walk-ins are available between 11:30 am and 3:30 pm. To make a reservation, please call 613 722-5890 x 121 or email with subject “Reservation for Charity Restaurant”.

The Real Canadian Superstore Orleans fundraiser will be on October 1st 10am-6pm. For more information call 613 824-0842. The Kanata fundraiser is not known at the time of the article but more information could be found by calling the store at 613 254-6050.