The Coalition for Healthy School Food is calling on provincial and federal leaders to work together to feed school children

As Canadian Education Ministers meet in Toronto on July 7 & 8, the Coalition for Healthy School Food is calling on provincial and federal leaders to work together to feed school children.

The Coalition for Healthy School Food comprises over 30 organizations from across Canada that are seeking an investment by the federal government in a cost-shared Universal Healthy School Food Program that will enable all students in Canada to have access to healthy meals at school every day.

The Coalition for Healthy School Food, along with Toronto City Councilor and Board of Health Chair Joe Mihevc, hosting a briefing on the state of school food programs in Canada for media and Ministries of Education on July 6

“Canada is one of the few industrial countries that doesn’t have a national school food program. Currently we’re feeding only one fifth of our students,” said Sasha McNicoll, Coordinator of the coalition through Food Secure Canada. “This is a problem we can no longer afford to ignore. A federal investment will leverage provincial efforts to improve the health and educational outcomes of all Canadian children.”

One-third of students in elementary schools and two-thirds of students in secondary schools do not eat a nutritious breakfast before school, undermining their health and academic potential. School food programs, which currently receive piecemeal funding from provinces and municipalities, have shown to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, improve physical and mental health, decrease behavioural and emotional problems, improve educational outcomes, and increase graduation rates.

Debbie Field, Director of Food Share Toronto, said that jurisdictional divisions between levels of government have made that difficult in the past.

“That’s why we hope this government is going to understand the health benefits of children eating,” said Field. “Most student nutrition programs were started in wartime. In our case the war that children are facing is a fast food war. Children are inundated with massive advertising campaigns so they want to have that food that makes them unhealthy.”

Given all the positive impacts, it is difficult to understand why Canada remains one of the only industrialized countries not to fund a school food program. With leadership emerging on healthy school food programs from the Governments of Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the City of Toronto, the federal government has an important role to play in leading a collaborative approach on school food with provincial, territorial, municipal and Indigenous governments.

Radio interviews

On AM640

Listen to this radio interview on with Coalition for Healthy School Food Coordinator Sasha McNicoll on AM640 with Tasha Kheiriddin


On CBC Radio

Listen to this radio interview (starts at 22:00) on CBC Radio of Kristy Taylor, Executive Director of Show Kids You Care.


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