A group of children visited a greenhouse on the last day of Bread for Success, an after-school project in Saskatoon supported by Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) Global Family education program. The kids are learning about how vegetables are grown, and Chris Buhler, co-owner of Floating Gardens Ltd., showed them around where tomatoes and eggplants twist their way toward the ceiling.
Most of the participants are new immigrant, refugee and indigenous children from Meadowgreen, a historically underserved neighbourhood in Saskatoon. Bread for Success operates from a rented apartment suite in the neighbourhood. Staff and volunteers help children with homework and teach them about nutrition and cooking.
Bread for Success is part of a new approach by MCC. Global Family supports education around the world but, until this year, has not run programs in North America. “I think at times we can be focused on these important needs far away and then lose sight of what’s right around our corner,” said Lynn Longenecker, education coordinator at MCC.
To address these local needs Global Family is now supporting three programs in North America—Bread for Success in Saskatoon, Gee Gush Koon (You Can Do It) in Kashechewan First Nation in Ontario, and Kingdom Builders Network in Philadelphia.
At the greenhouse in Saskatoon, Buhler showed them a mullein plant, pointing to white Dicyphus bugs crawling around the green leaf and explained that these small winged creatures eat harmful insects, particularly white fly that can devastate crops.
Field trips like this are novel. Many of the parents work several jobs to make ends meet and the children don’t often get to leave home. They are sometimes left unattended and during these moments can get into trouble with their friends.
Bread for Success provides a safe space for kids to learn and spend time with their friends. “Sometimes we think about it as a restorative justice program because kids are learning alternatives to violence,” says Kaytee Edwards, who runs the Bread for Success program.