Breakfast Club of Canada

“First Nations On-Reserve Student Food Internship Initiative” Grant


The aim of this initiative was to implement a student food internship initiative in partnership with Otapi high-school from the Atikamekw First Nation community of Manawan, Quebec. In addition, the intent was to transfer key experiences to the community’s youth through an innovative approach linked with the Breakfast Club of Canada’s locally established breakfast programs. The project has since developed into a student entrepreneurial business model that went well beyond the work simulation, developing into a revenue generating, self-sustainable initiative supporting school nutrition, youth entrepreneurship and community-wide food sovereignty and security. The project is supported by its teaching personnel and is linked to the school’s established curriculum.

The work of this initiative focused on the following goals:

  • Diminish drop-out rates from at least 25% and improve graduation rates within vocational curriculum (current high-school drop-out rates are 30%);
  • Increase student’s self-esteem and expectations towards post-secondary plans for studies and work paths;
  • Increase community healthy food access;
  • Create a mutually reinforcing model for both food internship and breakfast program outcomes;
  • Inspire the school to extend the internship project model to other fields of work experience.

Initially, the internship aimed to have a core group of 12 students mainly from the vocational program at Otapi high school. However, the project gained such interest and momentum that not only vocational and work path students participated but also some secondary 4 and 5 regular students. For the second year, the program settled on a core group of 32 students.

The initiative ran into some HR issues that affected the internship’s intended outcomes. However, the project’s value has been strongly recognized by the school staff in terms of awakening and acquiring of professional skills for students in a variety of specialized culinary trades like baking, pastry making, hosting, servicing tables, institutional cooking, butchery, and finally, tourism.

A few key insights from this work

A need emerges for more specialized training opportunities: food safety, customer service, small scale social economy, visits to workplaces-enterprises, business model development, marketing, publicity. The school curriculum might need to be adapted to provide such opportunities.

A well-supported local project coordination position is necessary for the project’s mid and long-term success.

Eliminate administrative intermediaries (even local) and foster project self-governance when allocating resources.

Creating a project management committee has proved fundamental to create business partnerships in the local community.

Creating permanent student jobs beyond summer time is actually benefiting school perseverance and motivation and answers great need in the community.


About Breakfast Club of Canada

For more than 24 years, Breakfast Club of Canada has been nourishing children’s potential by making sure as many of them as possible have access to a healthy morning meal before school, in an environment that allows their self-esteem to grow and flourish. But the Club is much more than a breakfast program: we take a broader approach that promotes the core values of engagement, enrichment and empowerment, and we team up with communities and local partners to develop solutions adapted to their specific needs.