By: Hannah Kazemi, Staff Writer
Editor’s Note: The article was updated to reflect there are 70 breakfast programs in Surrey, following an update from Mehra. Originally the article mistakenly noted there were only 27.
A group of SFU students started a program with the goal of providing elementary school students with a healthy breakfast each morning. The program is called Let’s Do Breakfast, and serves breakfast to students at Strawberry Hill Elementary in Surrey each day between 7:30 a.m.–8:30 a.m.
The Peak sat down for an interview with Ritu Mehra, one of the co-founders of Let’s Do Breakfast, to learn more about the program. Mehra started this program alongside fellow SFU students Harbir Dhaliwal and Muskan Jammu. Let’s Do Breakfast became operational on February 1, 2023, but the idea began in 2021. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the founders postponed the launch of their program. “We didn’t have much of an option. We just had to see it through and keep in contact with the Surrey School District,” Mehra said.
During the last two years, the founders prepared to launch their program. “We got to volunteer at an elementary school which had a breakfast program so we could get to learn about the breakfast program, learn about the food groups, and learn about what kind of breakfast we should give to children and what’s essential for them.”
After two years of working with the district, the Let’s Do Breakfast team was given their own school and funding from the Surrey School District to operate within.
Mehra described the way her and her co-founders’ upbringings inspired the program. All three of them came from immigrant families and “growing up in elementary school, we saw there wasn’t that much food provided to people who, you know, forgot their breakfast or forgot food, just didn’t have enough money to get breakfast, or didn’t have enough money for food in general.” In their volunteer experience, Mehra said they could “see the different attitudes” between students who had access to a healthy breakfast each day versus those who did not.
Mehra also noted there is a shortage of breakfast programs in Surrey, with 70 breakfast programs out of 101 elementary schools in the district. Let’s Do Breakfast aims to bridge that gap. “We’re going to be starting our breakfast program [at] Strawberry Hill Elementary [ . . . ] then slowly we want to expand and go to other elementary schools,” said Mehra.
“Breakfast provides us with lots of nutrients and energy to help kick start our day. It is the most important meal of the day — and I can’t stress this enough — because you do break a fast,” said Mehra. “When we’re sleeping we are sleeping for about eight to nine hours [ . . . ] Your body has rested but now it needs nutrients and needs energy to wake up and get started with the day.”
Let’s Do Breakfast aims to spread the message that breakfast is important and is an essential part of both a child and an adult’s day. In Mehra’s experience coming from an immigrant family, she understands that in “some cultures, breakfast is not really seen as an important meal.” She hopes to change attitudes on the importance of breakfast.
“We wanted to create this program to give back and also give breakfast to kids so they can start off their day right, start out their day with energy and positivity [ . . . ] They want to learn. They [just need to] have the energy to learn and be good learners.”
When asked about the future of the program, Mehra described their hopes to roll out a stamp program and pamphlet, similar to that of the Summer Reading Club in Surrey Libraries. “Every single time the student [ . . . ] comes to the breakfast program in the morning, they get stamped,” said Mehra. “Within that pamphlet they have breakfast ideas, little ways where they can implement breakfast into their life, and also why breakfast is important.”
Let’s Do Breakfast is currently looking for volunteers to help support the program. Mehra said, “We’re looking for leaders at SFU that want to make that positive impact and want to create change in their community.” All volunteers will have to complete a Criminal Record Check before working with vulnerable individuals.
To learn more about Let’s Do Breakfast and to submit an application, please email email@example.com with your resume.