Moving forward with Strength and Diversity: Raising the Bar on Student Food Programs

Did you know that Canada is one of the only OECD countries that does not have federal support for student food programs?  And that only 5 provinces partially fund these same programs? 

In order to change this situation, 26 people from 22 organizations from across Canada met November 26-27 for the first face-to-face meeting of FSC’s newest initiative – Raising the Bar on Student Food Programs.  Those around the table believe that it’s time for all levels of government to step up and help all students across Canada get the nourishment they need to learn and the education they need to make good food choices to ensure long, healthy lives.

It was an exciting moment that built a common vision and work plan that will bring together many of the leaders in student food including Breakfast Club of Canada, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, FoodShare Toronto, a number of Indigenous nations and organizations, and so many more.

Through this collaborative project, we agreed to work together to attain commitments for sufficient funding at all levels of government for a universal, pan-Canadian student food program, one that serves healthy and culturally appropriate food, as well as local and sustainable food as much as possible.

Together, we succeeded in weaving together a common vision with a broad diversity of actors around the table.  Over the coming years we will be working together to ensure that every student in Canada will have access to a school food program that:

  • is universal;
  • is cost-shared;
  • supports existing programs and diverse approaches to student food;
  • serves food that is healthy and culturally appropriate, as well as locally and sustainably sourced as much as possible; and
  • includes food skills/food literacy where possible.

We have many ideas for how to move this important issue forward that will bring to the table the strengths, partners and resources of many collaborating organizations.  To begin with, we will map school food programs across the country. Who is funding these programs?  How many kids are being fed?  What is it costing to run these programs?  What are some great models for running / funding these programs?

In 2015, we will host a national dialogue to hear from all of you: parents, students and the people running student food programs.  What is working in your community?  What role do you see the government playing to support your program in reaching all students, in serving healthy, more sustainable food.  Building on the success and model of the People’s Food Policy, we have timed this pan-Canadian conversation to coincide with the next Federal Election!

Stay tuned!  More to come soon.

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