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Opinion

Breakfast of champions

Retired teacher runs breakfast program for elementary students

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/12/2017 (853 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Although she’s retired from her teaching career, Ingrid Froese continues to influence young children.

Froese is the founder and co-ordinator of the breakfast program at Bertrun E. Glavin Elementary on Antrim Road.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Ingrid Froese volunteers her time running the breakfast program at Bertrun E. Glavin Elementary School.</p>

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Ingrid Froese volunteers her time running the breakfast program at Bertrun E. Glavin Elementary School.

She started the program in October 2013, a few months after retiring from her job at the school.

During the last two years of teaching, the 59-year-old North Kildonan resident was surprised by the number of students who would say, "Mrs. Froese, I’m hungry."

"It was obvious the need was there," she says.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:15 a.m., Froese and her team of 10 volunteers serve breakfast at the school.

A typical meal includes fresh fruit, healthy cereal, instant porridge, toast, yogurt, cheese, milk and juice.

On special occasions, volunteers serve pancakes, waffles and bacon.

The school has 295 students in kindergarten to Grade 5, and the free breakfast program regularly feeds from 35 to 50 of them.

If a child shows up to school hungry on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Froese has an "open fridge policy" that allows their teacher to get them something to eat from the program’s refrigerator.

In addition to serving students a meal, which helps them to focus and do better in the classroom, Froese says the breakfast program provides a "soft landing" for the children.

They learn to be kind to themselves and those around them and have a positive start to the day.

"I love what the children say to us, asking me if I’m 100 years old, (giving me) hugs around the knees," Froese says.

"It’s such an honour to gain their trust and their love."

Froese spent the summer of 2013 canvassing local businesses and churches for financial support to start the breakfast program.

She relies on donations to operate it.

Major partners include River East Mennonite Brethren Church, Springfield Heights Mennonite Church, Douglas Mennonite Church and Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, a Sikh temple.

"Those four have been godsends," Froese says.

From the beginning, Froese has recognized that the strength of a program lies in the community that supports it, says Brian Locken, principal at Bertrun E. Glavin.

"The group of volunteers are amazing because of that common shared belief that they can support kids," Locken says.

"They’re true servant leaders, just like Ingrid is, and it’s beautiful to watch."

Froese is a selfless individual who does an amazing job, he says.

"She gives all of herself to the kids," Locken says.

"She did that as a teacher when she was here at the school, and that certainly has extended into her retirement."

When she started the program, Froese promised Locken she would run it for three years.

This is her fifth year, and she sees no end in sight.

"I just get so much out of this program," Froese says. "I’m the lucky one."

If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.

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History

Updated on Monday, December 4, 2017 at 7:46 AM CST: Adds photo

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