This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Global MCC program aids underserved in N. America

Afson Magar eats a healthy snack during homework help night at Bread for Success. — Meghan Mast/MCC

SASKATOON, Sask. — A group of kids wiggle their way through the doors of Floating Gardens Ltd. and spill into the entry. They take off their shoes and slip into rubber ones designated safe for the greenhouse.

Afson Magar eats a healthy snack during homework help night at Bread for Success. — Meghan Mast/MCC
Afson Magar eats a healthy snack during homework help night at Bread for Success. — Meghan Mast/MCC

This is the last day of the first year of Bread for Success, an afterschool project supported through Mennonite Central Committee’s Global Family education program.

Today, the kids are learning about how vegetables are grown. Chris Buhler, co-owner of the greenhouse, leads them to a room where tomatoes and eggplants twist their way up to the ceiling.

Kaytee Edwards, who runs the Bread for Success program for MCC, points to another staff person.

“Guess how many Myriams go into a full-sized tomato plant?” she asks.

The kids throw out some guesses.

“Six to seven,” she says. “Tomato plants can grow up to 35 to 40 feet.”

Most of the participants are new immigrant, refugee and Indigenous children from Meadowgreen, a historically underserved neighborhood in Saskatoon. Bread for Success operates from a rented apartment suite in the neighborhood. Staff and volunteers help children with homework and teach them about nutrition and cooking.

MCC’s new approach

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.

Lynn Longenecker, education coordinator at MCC, said: “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.”

To address such local needs, Global Family is supporting three North American programs: 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, everyone gathers around as Buhler holds out a mullein plant, pointing to white Dicyphus bugs crawling around the green leaf. He explains that these small winged creatures eat harmful insects.

Field trips like this are novel. Many of these kid’s parents work several jobs to make ends meet. That means the children don’t often get to leave home. They are sometimes left unattended and can get into trouble.

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,” Edwards said.

This fits with the kid’s club rules: Respect each other. Respect the space. Respect the leaders.

At the tour’s end, Edwards passes out baby cucumbers. The kids chomp on the green snack as they walk up to the Buhlers’ house for supper.

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