Pay It Forward - Breakfast Club Feeds Students

12/8/2021 10:00:00 AM

Pay It Forward

“God gave us a gift to connect with kids. I can't wait to see how God uses this story in their lives.” – Jake Vanada, STMA Breakfast Club founder

What started as a way for Jake and Christy Vanada to help their own children – then students at St. Michael-Albertville High School – develop a deeper connection with their Christian faith, has grown into a movement that has impacted hundreds of kids.

Bell Employees

Eric Bloomstrand, mortgage loan officer

Maple Grove, Minn.


STMA Breakfast Club Albertville, Minn.

The Need

 In 2014, Jake and Christy Vanada asked their kids to invite some friends over for breakfast and Bible study, where Jake, a youth pastor, would read from the Bible and talk to the kids about Jesus. Ten students showed up for the first meeting, and that number grew to 30 or 40 kids, where it hovered for a few years.

“Our original vision was feed their bellies and feed their souls,” Jake explains. “Teach them about a God who loves them, and feed them some delicious, not doughnuts and juice, but like a legit spread.”

Their son’s senior year, about half the kids who regularly attended STMA Breakfast Club were seniors. Jake challenged the remaining students, “This is Breakfast Club next year. What are you going to do?”

The next fall, more than 100 kids showed up, so the Vanadas had to livestream Breakfast Club from their basement into their garage and a neighbor’s house.

“Each and every time we meet for Breakfast Club, students are bringing new friends, like ‘Come and see this,’ and it exploded,” Jake notes.

The Impact

There are now more than 470 students on an ever-growing list of attendees. Volunteers also help with the breakfasts.

“We used to shoulder this thing, the 2 of us, when it was 20, 30 kids – it was like a birthday party,” Christy remarks. “But to watch these men and women come in with their gifts that we don't have, this team that’s more efficient and it’s stronger. And it’s incredible to see.”

Eric Bloomstrand, a mortgage loan officer for Bell Bank in Maple Grove, Minn., has volunteered and given his Pay It Forward funds to the cause.

“This is the most powerful thing I’ve ever experienced,” Eric remarks. “It’s just, it’s got my heart.”

And due to the explosive growth, the Vanadas and other volunteers are raising money to build a barn on 4 acres of land across the street from the high school, donated to the Breakfast Club.

“We’ve had an amazing amount of support and donations, and we’re super close to getting over the top where it’s 100% debt-free,” Eric comments.

“God gave us a gift to connect with kids,” Jake says. “I can’t wait to see how God uses this story in their lives.”

Through the Pay It Forward program, Bell gives employees money each year to donate to people and causes they care about.