Action Needed from the Federal Government on Student Nutrition, Says the Coalition for Healthy School Food

For immediate release

TORONTO, March 22, 2017: The Coalition for Healthy School Food, which comprises more than 30 organizations from across Canada, congratulates the government on its support of education through investments in Pathways to Education and in Indigenous schools, as well as on its continued support of families with children through the Canada Child Benefit and improved access to quality child care.

These investments show a focus on children, and the funding for Pathways to Education suggests the federal government is not limited by jurisdiction when it comes to support for children in schools. Despite this, however, there is still more investment needed on child and youth nutrition, specifically on nutrition and food programs for students. Canada remains one of the only industrialised countries without a national school food program, despite evidence that tells us that children and youth who have access to healthy school food programs show a higher level of well-being: higher intake of necessary nutrients that lead to better health outcomes, increased physical and mental health, increased educational outcomes, and a sense of community and belonging.

“An investment in school food programs is an investment in the future of Canadian kids,” says Sasha McNicoll, Coalition for Healthy School Food Coordinator with Food Secure Canada. “Children spend half their waking hours at school, where they should have access to healthy food and be learning about the importance of good eating habits.”

Without a national student nutrition program, Canadian children and youth are facing serious challenges related to their diets: only one-third eat enough vegetables and fruits, one-third of primary students and two-thirds of secondary students go to school without a nutritious breakfast, and one-quarter of calories consumed by children are from foods not recommended by Canada’s Food Guide.

Investments from provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, as well as from parents, civil society organizations, and corporations, are supporting a patchwork of school food programs across the country. A federal investment can leverage these efforts to improve the health and educational outcomes of all children and lower health care costs for the next generation of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

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Food Secure Canada is a pan-Canadian alliance of organizations and individuals working together to advance food security and food sovereignty through three inter-locking goals: zero hunger, healthy and safe food, and sustainable food systems. Food Secure Canada convenes the Coalition for Healthy School Food, which comprises over 30 regional, provincial and national organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of Canadians, working toward a national school food program for Canada.

For further information, contact:

Sasha McNicoll, Coalition for Healthy School Food Coordinator, Food Secure Canada (Toronto) at 647-770-8388 or schoolfood@foodsecurecanada.org