January 9, 2024 – At Folkstone Public School in Brampton, the man behind the success of the Student Nutrition Program (SNP) is not your typical nutrition expert or educator. Instead, it’s the Head Custodian, Andrew Bryce, who has been steering the program for eight years.
A hearty breakfast kickstarts a successful and engaging day. But rising food costs make it tough for students to access nutritious meals, jeopardizing their most important meal – breakfast.
The Student Nutrition Program (SNP) steps in to bridge the meal gap. Thanks to partnerships with PC Children’s Charity, YMCA, and HealthySelections.ca, students get a daily breakfast boost.
SNP meals follow guidelines – one vegetable, a fruit, whole grains, and a protein source. Choices include hummus, crackers, juices, milk, cereal, bagels, and hard-boiled eggs.
From Custodial Duties to Community Connection: Andrew Bryce
In his sixteenth year with the board, Bryce took sole charge of the SNP at Folkstone in 2022. His motivation extends beyond the typical custodial duties. “Our jobs are about keeping the schools safe and clean, but I like being connected with the kids,” Bryce shares. “Being at a school for longer than five years, we get to see them grow, and it’s a different kind of connection.”
Bryce runs the program during nutrition breaks, providing pre-packaged items for students to supplement their lunch. The bins are set up in the morning, encouraging students to make independent choices.
Community Development Specialist Afia Syeda Imran assists Bryce in managing and maintaining funding. And Andy Seto, Director of Peel Student Nutrition Program, commends Bryce for going the extra mile. “Andrew has done a great job of applying for those extra funds.”
Community Engagement and Challenges
While emphasizing the impact of the program, Bryce expresses a desire for more community involvement. “I think it would be nice to have a volunteer set up to have a proper breakfast with toast, pancakes, waffles, and more.”
Despite the challenges posed by rising food costs, Imran acknowledges the program’s resilience. “There are many challenges that we are facing with food costs, but there is still a gap. We do have partnerships that provide grocery cards and fundraisers through grocery foundations.”
Both Seto and Imran highlight the need for more student involvement and community engagement to run day-to-day operations. Seto emphasizes, “We always say, even if a lunch supervisor was given an extra half an hour, it would make a difference. The goal is always to reduce the workload off of staff.”
Folkstone Public School and the Future of SNP
Bryce, witnessing the daily impact of the program, remains optimistic about its growth and continuation. The SNP at Folkstone PS has weathered changes in nutrition guidelines and size but continues to make a substantial impact on the community.
In the heart of Folkstone PS, Andrew Bryce proves that dedication and a unique connection with the community can turn a custodian into a vital force in ensuring students receive the nutrition they need for success.