Hundreds turned out bright and early yesterday morning to support the Niagara Nutrition Partners (NPP) in their quest to feed hungry children.
The annual Breakfast Gala unites secondary school culinary students with business and educational leaders who support nutrition programs in Niagara.
Program Manager Anne Kirkpatrick told the ThoroldNews the breakfast is their signature fundraiser.
The event raises $30,000 for the program and also introduces culinary students to the community. Judges chosen from the business community vote on their favourite breakfast dish.
The judges' choice this year was Saint Francis, with Blessed Trinity taking the people’s choice award.
“The program supports 180 student breakfast programs across Niagara. It involves the Niagara Catholic District School Board, The District School Board of Niagara and both French boards,” she said.
The event was sold out and Kirkpatrick explained, “This our ninth year and the breakfast includes champions of the cause, donors, volunteers and other supporters. The official hostess is (celebrity chef) Anna Olson, who is a big supporter and always happy to fulfill her duties as breakfast host.”
The program feeds an astounding 17,000 children in Niagara every day, and Kirkpatrick noted that takes a lot of volunteers. Currently about 1,000 volunteers are involved.
“We don’t administer the (180) programs but help menu plan, supply funds, and provide volunteer recruitment and training,” she said. “Each program involves from two to 10 volunteers. We have parents, business and community volunteers, teachers, EA students and volunteers from all over, from kids to 80 years old.”
Kirkpatrick said the programs often generate their own volunteers. As an example, she noted, “We have a group from the Canadian Federation of University Women. They started at the Harriet Tubman School and now they have full teams of volunteers who support five schools in St. Catharines.”
As the NPP heads into its 10th year, organizers are always looking for more volunteers. “All available positions are posted on the website. The openings, what they need to do and the duties involved are all included so they know what they’re signing up for,” said Kirkpatrick.
And they’re always looking for program sponsors. Kirkpatrick proudly pointed out, “If they all come back next year there will be 10 sponsors who have been here all 10 years.”
One of the sponsors that has been there since program inception is PenFinancial Credit Union.
CEO Ken Janzen said they became involved through an employee who was there at the beginning.
“iI’s a great alignment with our values-based banking model, Truly Local Commitment. We support three major pillars in Niagara - affordable housing, mental health, and poverty so we feel that even though we’ve been a sponsor for nine years, we will be for many years to come. It’s a great fit for us,” said Janzen.