Starbucks Coffee barista Melinda Johnson admits she got a little teary over hearing a Greater Trail educator say she was excited that she could now buy eggs for students in the breakfast program.
Before the Starbucks team from Trail Ferraro Foods donated almost $7,000 in tips to five elementary school breakfast programs, the kids usually got toast before first class.
“When I heard that I kind of (gulped),” Johnson shared.
So eggs were going to be a treat, and extra nutrition, for the young students.
The baristas have helped other causes by donating their tips, and they make those decisions like they work, as a team.
“We all thought about this together,” Johnson said. “I had mentioned the breakfast program because I am a mom, and have kids in school, so I was aware of the program. Once we mentioned it to staff, they were completely on board.”
The donation of about $1,250 to elementary schools in Rossland, Warfield, Trail and Fruitvale, came after six months of saving tips at the Starbucks counter.
“I don’t think, in the grand scheme things, that I realized how much it was,” said barista Erin Palesch. “So that was pretty amazing, it ended up being a lot of money for the kids.”
The breakfast program is fairly new in the Kootenay Columbia district, and runs in schools from K-12.
Each school tailors the program to work for their own needs. But the driving force to provide a first meal of day is the same for all educators – children need food to learn.
“We took on breakfast a couple of years ago because we recognized that we had kids coming to school hungry,” says Bill Ford, superintendent for Kootenay-Columbia. “It is absolutely imperative that kids get fed if we expect them to learn. Research connected to that is very clear, they need good sleep, good nutrition, and good exercise if we expect them to learn at any kind of optimum level.”
The breakfast program, like the school lunch program, is free.
“The fact that we are now in the breakfast business as well, just speaks to the changing local environment where families continue to struggle in terms of meeting their basic family needs,” Ford said. “We are just so appreciative to Danny Ferraro and his baristas, that they recognize there is a need and they supported us. It’s fantastic and I can’t say enough. It’s wonderful.”
Now that the Starbucks baristas have helped elementary school students, they are already starting to save for their next cause. This time the focus, however, will be a Grade 12 student.
“We were very proud to be able to donate money to the breakfast program,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know it was going to be that much, none of us did. So now we are saving tips toward a scholarship for one of our graduates.”