SD 54 superintendent Chris van der Mark reads with Grade 2 student Jaycee Hodson during Breakfast and Books last week.

SD 54 superintendent Chris van der Mark reads with Grade 2 student Jaycee Hodson during Breakfast and Books last week.

Breakfast and Books gives students a head start

Breakfast and Books is a great way for the students of Walnut Park Elementary to start their day.

Breakfast and Books is a great way for the students of Walnut Park Elementary to start their day.

The program runs once a month and provides all students with a healthy breakfast and an opportunity to spend time reading before their regular classroom schedule begins.

Breakfast and Books is partnership between Smithers Community Services Association and the school that started this year after Walnut Park teacher-librarian Lynn Rutley approached SCSA executive director Cathryn Olmstead about providing funding for the program.

SCSA redirected their efforts from its Good Food Box program to Breakfast and Books in the hopes these children will grow up and continue to eat healthy food, Olmstead said.

“The [Good Food Box program] wasn’t embraced by as many people as we had hoped,” she said. “The whole intention around it was to encourage people to eat healthy foods and try different things. We thought one way to achieve this objective was to approach it at a younger age and create ways for kids to see what it’s like to have a healthy breakfast in the morning.”

Rutley said she sees Breakfast and Books as an opportunity for education as well. In connection with the program, Rutley also said she is working with a Grade 7 leadership group to promote the link between healthy eating and learning readiness.

“It is hoped that Breakfast and Books is also an opportunity to strengthen our school spirit by creating a venue for students, parents, teachers, and members of our community to come together and celebrate good nutrition and reading,” Rutley said.

Walnut Park works closely with nutritionist Jody Eskelin to make sure the foods that are being served are truly healthy.

While the importance of eating a healthy breakfast for a young student isn’t up for debate, Breakfast and Books is more than that, said Walnut Park vice-principal Nicole Davey.

“It’s been a huge success,” Davey said. “But it’s so much more than breakfast. The kids instantly feel welcome and it’s a really nice start to our day.”