David and Manjy Sidoo started Sidoo Family Giving five years ago with the goal of enriching the lives of children and families around the world. Promoting health and wellbeing is a significant focus of Sidoo Family Giving.
A few years ago, the compassionate couple became aware that every day hundreds of children in British Columbia go to school hungry for reasons ranging from poverty to an inability to eat first thing in the morning.
Hunger Negatively Impacts Learning
Numerous studies, such as the one below, have shown that lack of morning nutrition has negative effects on school performance:
“Over the past five years, significant new evidence has documented the link between eating breakfast and learning. Recent studies show that skipping breakfast…is associated with quantifiable negative consequences for academic, cognitive, health, and mental health functioning.”
- J. Michael Murphy, EdD, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. From “Breakfast and Learning: An Updated Review.” Journal of Current Nutrition and Food Science 2007; 3(1): 3-36.
School organizations are listening and school meal programs have been on the increase across North America thanks to the support of government agencies, the efforts of not-for-profit organizations and the generosity of community members. Meal programs ensure that students receive a nutritious breakfast or lunch or both several days a week.
School Meal Program Benefits
According to the non-profit society, Breakfast Clubs of Canada, “Teaching staff have reported at least 30 minutes more effective teaching time per day as a result of breakfast programs instilled in their schools.” Further, their In-school breakfast programs have demonstrated the following benefits:
- Improved attendance and punctuality;
- Renewed interest in curriculum subjects;
- Increased understanding of how healthy eating habits affect energy levels;
- Improved behaviour and increased concentration, leading to greater achievement;
- Improved social skills and confidence to interact with other children and adults;
- Reduced bullying through increased cross-age and peer-group interaction and communication;
- Enhanced relationships with family members and the wider community of breakfast clubs.
SFF Fuels Students in New West
Over the past two years, Sidoo Family Giving has contributed $30,000 to the Janta Sewak Society, which directed the funds into a healthy meals program in the New Westminster BC School District. As a result, more than twelve thousand nutritious meals and snacks were served to over one thousand students each year.
On May 17, 2011, David and Manjy dropped in to the New Westminster Secondary School Breakfast Club to help prepare and serve meals. New Westminster Mayor, Wayne Wright, joined the couple amid a media event designed to create awareness of the need for school meal programs in New West and elsewhere in the province.
A Challenge to Others
David, alumnus of New West Secondary, is a firm believer in giving back to the community in which he was raised. Now he’s hoping inspire other community-minded philanthropists to develop school meals programs in their communities.
David suggests interested potential contributors should contact their local school district to find out whether such a program exists or is needed. You don’t know until you ask!
2011 Breakfast Club Media Releases