Popular breakfast program sells farm-fresh produce boxes to raise funds

A Nova Scotia non-profit that provides breakfast programs at schools across the province hopes a new fundraiser using farm-fresh produce boxes will encourage healthier eating.

Through a network of over 3,600 volunteers, Nourish Nova Scotia has helped provide five million free breakfasts to students at 350 schools around the province.

The organization’s executive director says the new initiative, in which students sell farm-produce boxes in the week before Thanksgiving in order to raise funds, is consistent with the organization’s original goals.

“That’s really at the heart of our mandate is that big food literacy piece, getting more fresh fruits and vegetables in front of kids, creating that healthy food environment in schools,” Margo Riebe-Butt told CBC’s Information Morning.

Program includes dozens of schools

Riebe-Butt said the program started last year, with a pilot project at six schools and one non-profit child-care centre. 

This year, the program has expanded to include 30 schools, with another 30 lined up for a repeat of the program at Christmas.

Riebe-Butt said although demand has exceeded expectations, supply has proven more challenging.

‘We need more farmers’

“We need more farmers, that’s for sure, and the interest list is really long,” she said.

“It actually started after we did the pilot last year. My phone rang off the hook for two weeks straight and my email was clogged with inquiries.”


Margo Riebe-Butts said the fundraiser will help Nourish Nova Scotia continue its highly successful breakfast programs. (Zak Markan/CBC)

She said the farmers the organization has already partnered with sell the produce to schools at wholesale prices. Students then sell the boxes, and profits go to supporting the organization’s other programs.

Riebe-Butt said that while many of the students benefiting from the breakfast programs are from food-insecure households, there are many reasons why the organization provides meal programs — including taking the opportunity to encourage healthy eating. 

“We like to say that we’re an organization that gives a fish, but we’re also trying to teach people to fish,” she said.

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