ST. ANTHONY, NL
– When the staff at College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) St. Anthony campus began brainstorming ways to help students with food security this fall, they never imagined their idea would be fully funded by an anonymous donor.
“We were elated when we found out someone wanted to fund our initiative,” said Chad Simms, Campus Manager. “In the last few years, food security has become a real issue for students, and even staff. We wanted our students to know we support them in times of need.”
The program officially kicked off on November 29 and is set to run for three months on a trial basis to gauge reception and determine its effectiveness. Two free breakfasts per week are served on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It is open to all students, faculty, and staff. There is no requirement to prove one’s need for the meals.
“We wanted to make it open to all students, staff, and faculty so that nobody feels singled out,” said Simms. “We did not want any stigma attached, so we put it out there as a thing for the entire campus.”
Meals are comprised of healthy basics like yogurt, fruit, cereals, tea, coffee, and toast. Once a month, diners are treated to eggs and bacon.
The program is run by volunteer staff and faculty at the St. Anthony campus who show up at 7:30 a.m. to prepare meals.
“It’s important for me to volunteer my time to this program,” said Noah Smith, Powerline Technician instructor and breakfast program volunteer. “From the feedback in my monthly report from our students, it has been identified as one of the most important things that students have to deal with during their time here at the college.”
Despite being fully funded, the program wasn’t launched without navigating a few roadblocks, says Simms.
Because their cafeteria was no longer in operation, the campus needed to first obtain a food license from the provincial government. That process involved having the cafeteria inspected, as well as training at least one staff member in food handling safety.
According to Simms, the campus doesn’t want the program to stop at just serving breakfast either. If all goes well, they intend to expand the program by having students volunteer in addition to faculty and staff. They also hope to bring in experts like local chefs and dietitians to teach students how to buy and prepare healthy foods on a budget.
Ultimately, Simms says he would love to see this program adopted at other campuses across the province.
“Meals are obviously important to life, but they are also crucial for learning. It’s been proven that folks learn better on a full stomach and that’s why this program is so important to us as a campus. We believe it’s important as a society that when you can help, you do help.”
Public Relations Specialist
College of the North Atlantic