A daily breakfast program feeding approximately 60,000 students annually in the Penticton and Summerland area is aiming to raise $350,000 within the next five years.
Trevor Nelson and Marg Bjernson have spent countless hours fundraising in the community over the past several years in hopes that one day, the Okanagan Skaha School District 67 breakfast program becomes permanently funded.
And, with the recent launch of an endowment fund through the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan, that dream is one step closer to reality.
“It’s really exciting,” said Nelson. “Monies earned in that endowment fund will seed fund this pool on an annual basis.”
The goal is to raise $350,000 within the next five years for the endowment fund. Nelson’s business, The Stewart Thomas Group, has committed $25,000 over the next five years.
Tim Hortons in the South Okanagan has committed $75,000 over the next four years to the program, and kickstarted its fundraising efforts Friday with the sale of Smile cookies.
“We’re hoping to do it in three,” said Nicole MacMillan, who co-owns the South Okanagan Tim Hortons locations with her husband, Mitch.
MacMillan said she and Mitch were eager to jump on board and hopes the Smile cookie fundraiser, which runs until Sunday, Sept. 22, helps raise awareness about the significance of the program for both students and parents.
“I do think it’s so beneficial to (children’s) schooling,” she said. “They’ve noticed that when the kids actually eat, they are paying more attention in class.”
She added 100% of proceeds from each Smile cookie will be donated to the program.
Each school runs their program autonomously with a group of dedicated volunteers who shop for supplies, cook the meals and clean up afterward.
“We’ve seen schools come on that weren’t on before, which is great,” said Nelson.
Fundraising efforts have made it possible for some schools, such as Parkway Elementary, to expand the program to five days a week, and for ConnectEd and AIM to provide lunches to students.
While Nelson hopes the program will help children who are in need of a nutritional meal in the morning, no child will ever be turned away from the program.
“No child will ever not be part of the program,” he explained.