Dance benefit supports Greater Trail youth

"Dancing for Breakfast" begins Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Webster, with a $10 family admission, $5 adult or $3 tickets available at the door.

Young ladies will be ‘Dancing for Breakfast’ Friday at Webster Elementary School in a showcase of rhythmic steps to benefit a local organization spearheaded by three moms, called “kids helping kids.”

Kids helping kids is a group of parents with children, who together are trying to raise awareness and funds in the community to assist with breakfast, lunch and healthy snack programs in local schools.

The project is a passion for Courtenay Jones, Debbie Field, and Heather Zanussi, the trio of local mothers who kicked off the cause with a series of fundraisers last fall.

“It breaks my heart that when we phoned each school, we found that the need is so great out there,” explained Field.

“We wanted to do something because our kids shouldn’t be hungry,” she said. “These kids are our future and we want people to be aware of the need for healthy food in our local schools.”

With help from artful bakers in the community who donated soups and homemade bread, kids who helped bake cookies, family and friends, the ladies have raised $3,100 to date, with all proceeds being distributed equally to breakfast and snack programs at Webster Elementary, J.L. Crowe Secondary, Glenmerry Elementary and the Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre (formerly the Trail Middle School).

“All our friends, families and coworkers at Kootenay Savings have helped with baking,” said Field. “Not only did they donate it, but in some cases, they turned around and bought it back,” she laughed.

Each day, the school meal program provides about 215 lunches for students in School District 20 (SD20), however 60 per cent of those lunches are delivered to Trail schools, according to Kim Williams, SD20’s director of student support services.

The lunch program began 21 years ago when teachers recognized that students were arriving at school without lunch.

“For those who cannot afford lunches, they are provided free of cost.” said Williams. “And the same need is identified in high school and elementary in all communities.”

School meals are paid for through a community grant provided by the Ministry of Education, however the $175,000 yearly budget is stretched to cover wages for two school meal coordinators, and cover costs of shopping locally for bagged lunch contents, which include milk or juice box, a sandwich and one serving of vegetables.

This is where ‘kids helping kids’ steps in, because if a child also arrives at school without breakfast in the belly, or is hungry at recess or any other time during the day, SD20 only provides sustenance for lunch.

“Some children are getting on the bus at 7 a.m. and by the time they arrive at school it is close to 8:15 a.m.,” said Zanussi. “Lunch break rolls around and they have eaten what is left in their lunch bag and have nothing for afternoon recess break,” she continued. “By the time they take the bus at home they haven’t eaten anything since lunch. And some children arrive at school with no food at all.”

So with a “you eat, you’re in” philosophy, ‘kids helping kids’ is forging ahead to find ways to fund an ongoing healthy breakfast and snack program for Greater Trail children.

“It’s wrong to have our kids go hungry,” said Jones. “The community has been supportive but involving kids to help out is what it is all about. We are so honoured and thankful that so many people are willing to help raise money for our program.”

The Steps Dance Centre performance begins Friday at 6:30 p.m., with a $10 family admission, $5 adult or $3 tickets available at the door.

For more information, or to donate, call 367.7133.