A Full Tummy in Children can Help Solve the Perpetuation of Povery in Today's Society

by darno1 on Avril 25, 2014 - 2:53pm

The Breakfast Club of Canada is a non-for profit organization that provides children with a healthy breakfast at school who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to have one.  This non-for profit caught my eye due to a fellow students post on NewsActivist about how volunteering there will help reduce crime.  One of the fundamental goals of the club founder Daniel Germain is solving poverty and changing history.                                                                                                                                                                                           

The main goal of the breakfast club is to ultimately put an end to poverty.  This club ensure that when children arrive at school they will have the ability to eat a healthy breakfast packed with nutrition in an environment that encourages and promotes self-esteem and raising awareness to the issue of poverty and children who go hungry (http://www.breakfastclubcanada.org).                                                                                        

While the Breakfast Club of Canada does a good job at providing children who are less off with breakfast, they are indirectly continuing to perpetuating the issue of poverty. While feeding children should be a high priority, they need to figure out how to create an atmosphere where the children who are fed within the school are not singled out and potentially ostracized.  As many know, today there is a stigma attached to being poor or living in poverty.  Many people look at individuals in poverty like they are just looking for a hand out, that they do not have the aspirations to try hard, because as we all assume, working hard gets you places, where not working hard, well that leads you to poverty.                                                                                         

My suggestion would be implement a point system within the home and or classrooms for students.  If they reach certain levels award them with vouchers for certain foods from partnerships and supporting companies.  This way they can take the vouchers home to their parents, to show them all the hard work they are putting in. This would not only support them having breakfast in school, but also provide food while they are not in school.  This would work much like some of the reading programs that are in place; where students who read a certain amount of books get a voucher to pizza hut for a free personal pan pizza as a reward for his/her hard work and dedication.  Every child could participate, so no one feels left out or is stigmatized for participating.  This may help with how people view poverty.  Instead of people having a negative assumption that people are just being handed things for free, they are actually working for it, in a way that will only advance them in the future, through their education.  The partnerships that are involved may also want to add stipulations on what children need to do in order to get their free voucher, so they feel more involved, rather than that they are just giving away their products for free.                                                                                                               

The theorist who I believe fits into this category of change would be Karl Marx.  Marx is well known in Sociology for his ideas of building alliances (going from a class in itself to a class for itself) all awhile raising awareness.  Building alliances or partnerships in the case for The Breakfast Club of Canada is key.  Thought processes need to shift from an individual basis (class in itself) where people have the same material interest but do not recognize it, to a group basis (class for itself) where people become aware of their shared interest and work toward change.  In order to put an end to poverty society no only needs to focus not only on feeding children and people who are less fortunate, but we need to change the way in which poverty is looked at.  The negative connotations that are attached to the word poverty and the way people in poverty are stigmatized need to be restructured.  Society needs large, powerful corporations to join in the fight to end poverty by eradicating the stigmas that are attached to it.  They need to be vocal and advocate for change.  They are not only important for raising awareness but also for the supplies that feed the children.  Their products are key to children being fed.  Marx made mention about a classless society.  This would be one in where no one would make a living at another’s expense, there would be no exploitation of workers and people would all earn the same wage.  The idea of a classless society today seems almost like a fairy tale.  Today it seems people are more concerned with lining their own pockets than who they step on and practically kill to get there.  Large corporations lay off hundreds of people to save money, those people are unable to get jobs elsewhere which ultimately drives them and their family into poverty.  (Marx 2011:3-37)                                                                                                                                                      

The goal of The Breakfast Club of Canada is to eliminate poverty by providing children with a healthy breakfast pack with nutrition.  With a healthy breakfast kids are able to focus longer, have better memories, solve problems easier, be creative and have less behavioral problems.  This leads to an increase in their academic performances.  There are short-term and long-term benefits to this practice.  The short-term benefits are that children are able to focus longer and have less behavior problems while in the classroom.  The long-term goals are that children who consume a health breakfast every morning, will do better academically throughout their school year, which will help when it comes time to go college.  Once they finish college, they will go out into society and hopefully get a job.  This will help break up the cycle of poverty, especially for that family.                                                                                                  

The Breakfast Club of Canada is a fairly large organization.  They have fifteen people on their board of directors, who are responsible for providing advice and guidance on strategy decisions.  There are eight people on their advisory committee, which is responsible for bring in new partnerships and making sure that the schools that they provide support to, are getting enough.  There are ten members of the executive, their job is to drive knowledge of what the organization stands for.  Lastly they have four people on the nutrition committee with one being a professional dietician.  Their jobs are to educate people on nutrition and the misinformation that is out there about nutrition.                                                                                                      

On top of having several employees throughout the organization, they have some national supporters. Danone, Minute Maid, Kellogg’s, Delmonte, General Mills, Costco Wholesale and Walmart to name a few.  Danone became a contributing member in 1996 and has since donated 1 million 7 hundred thousand (1,700,000) individual yogurts.  Minute Maid has been a contributing member since 2003 and has since donated 143,676 liters which is equivalent to just shy of 34 thousand cups (8 ounces each) of orange juice.  Walmart has also been a large contributor.  They hosted the Help Them Shine Campaign where individuals could buy a bookmark for one dollar that would buy one child one breakfast for one day.  The campaign lasted less than a month and raised more than 2.5 million dollars.  Walmart then donated an additional 776 thousand dollars to the cause, while Kraft and General Mills provided an additional 100 thousand dollars to the cause.  All in all the Help Them Shine Campaign earned more than 3.4 million dollars in less than a month’s time.                                                              

While 3.4 million dollars seems like a lot of money, in the grand scheme of things it is pennies in a bucket.  Walmart raised 2.5 million dollars selling 1 dollar bookmarks.  That is 2.5 million people (if we assume that people only donated once) who donated.  There are more than 7 billion 200 million people in the world right now and that number is growing every second (World Population Clock).  That means that there are roughly 7 billion 197 million people who have not contributed or are not aware of how enormous the issue of poverty is.  Poverty is not just a local societal issue, it is a global issue that effects more people than one could begin to imagine.  The Breakfast Club of Canada alone stated that “…nearly one in seven children is at risk.  That’s almost one million (The Breakfast Club of Canada)” in Canada alone.                       

The ideas of the organization and commitment to the cause remind me of another theorist Erving Goffman and his idea of a sincere performance.  The founder of The Breakfast Club of Canada Daniel Germain and his staff represent what Goffman termed as a sincere performance.  They are passionate and believe in their cause and what they are doing. Their performance are thus sincere.  Germain and his employees share what Goffman termed collective representation.  Their beliefs and values all coincide with one another. (Goffman 2011:249-254)                                   

The breakfast club of Canada takes the resources that they have raised or been given by their corporate partnerships and provides schools with food, funding, equipment for the kitchen, training for school staff, and management tool for using the resources appropriately.  They also educate school staff about nutrition and the misconceptions that are out there about it.  From 2011 to 2012 the club serviced 1,266 schools and provided approximately 130,000 students with a healthy nutritious breakfast.

 

 

 

 

References

 

Goffman, E. (2011). Performances. Social Theory: Roots and Branches (4th Edition). New York: Oxford University Press. (Original work published)

Kivisto, P. (2011). Performances. Social Theory: Roots and Branches (4th Edition). New York: Oxford University Press. (Original work published)

Marx, K. (2011). Performances. Social Theory: Roots and Branches (4th Edition). New York: Oxford University Press. (Original work published)

The Breakfast Club of Canada

World Population Clock