Each year, on a Friday in mid-December, businesses and community come together for the Annual Riverside Antler Breakfast: join your neighbours at the crack of dawn for some hearty eats, great company, fun entertainment and of course, your antlers – all in support of a good cause! It all happens at The Ralph Thornton Community Centre (765 Queen E, 2nd Fl). This amazing charitable event is organized and supported by the Riverside BIA, Toronto Food Tours, The Ralph Thornton Community Centre, and the Rivertowne Safety 1st group. This year the fun is happening on Friday, December 13th.
Proceeds of the Riverside Antler Breakfast support The Rivertowne Breakfast Program, providing a hot breakfast to youth, families and anyone in need every Friday, year-round!
About the Rivertowne Breakfast Program
The Rivertowne Breakfast Program is championed by Rivertowne Safety 1st, a resident collective comprised of Toronto Community Housing women leaders dedicated to making a positive impact in their community. The Breakfast Program runs every Friday, year-round, to provide children, youth and families in the neighbourhood with a free, warm breakfast. It also aims to bring people in the Rivertowne community together regardless of their family’s income level and give them something to look forward to while building a sense of community. This program is supported by a variety of community partners including Ralph Thornton Community Centre, Riverside BIA, and Toronto Food Tours. The program runs in Rivertowne on Friday mornings, 7am-11am, at 50 Matilda Street, Toronto.
The Riverside Breakfast Program began in 2012, and was funded entirely by Rivertowne residents, the majority of who belong to low-income households. The program initially served 28 residents, mostly youth. Since then, the program has grown to provide a warm breakfast to close to 80 residents and is supported by local fundraising efforts. Of the participants in the Breakfast Program, 60% are youth (13-29), 20% are children (0-12), 10% are people with disabilities and 10% are seniors.
The weekly cost to host this program once a week (Friday mornings) is under $200, or less than $3 per person. The program is a way for the community to come together to ensure that vulnerable members of the community, particularly children and youth are provided with a healthy breakfast and social connections.
A number of participants are seniors and people with disabilities, who often face barriers to regular employment, or are on fixed incomes. This breakfast enables them to connect with their community while also receiving a nutritious breakfast. The weekly breakfast typically includes pancakes, turkey bacon, eggs, bagel, cheese, milk, and orange juice. A diversity of cultures benefit from the Rivertowne Breakfast Program, furthering the important goal of bringing people in the community together.
What do people say about the program?
“The program is very helpful because as a single mom, I know my child is getting a healthy, hot meal”- N
“I have 5 kids and my 6-year old child is diabetic, making it very important to get the healthy meals that the program offers.”- F
“I’m a single mom of three kids, and am attending college. The program helps me and my kids to get a good meal before they go to school, it takes away the worry.” -J
“Friday morning is less stress for me. Me and my kids get up and go to aunty Joan to eat breakfast.” F
“Friday is a family day for me. It’s a blessing.” F
“Friday is a nutritious day for me. Usually, I eat just cereal.” A
“I look forward to Friday, breakfast is great! Normally I would not eat at all!” J
“I look forward to meeting people in the building.” And good eats.” T
“The breakfast program and Joan is the heart of Rivertowne, it keeps the community together, everyone is always welcome. “ J
“It’s always better for me to have breakfast here. Especially when I cannot go outside with my wheelchair.” CH
“Thank you for this idea. It’s very helpful for everyone here including me. A blessing.” B
“This program is very reliable, brings the community together and helps families and children. It saves us time every Friday and the service is fantastic.” N
“I love coming to breakfast and appreciate getting woken up for it.” S
“Everyone is so friendly. And I see my long-time friend.” S