Federal government should invest $1 billion in children’s nutrition

For Immediate Release

Montreal, March 17, 2015 - The Coalition for Healthy School Food, made up of more than twenty organizations across Canada, is asking the federal government to invest one billion dollars in a Universal Healthy School Food Program to ensure all students can eat healthy food at school everyday.

About one-quarter of children’s calories are from food products not recommended in Canada’s Food Guide, and only about one-third of children eat five or more servings of vegetables and fruit daily. “The federal government should invest in a universal school food program to ensure that children establish healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime,” says Diana Bronson, Executive Director of Food Secure Canada (FSC). “We shall be looking at the platforms of all political parties in the upcoming election to ensure that a minimum of $250 million is earmarked for the program in their first year in office, to be gradually scaled up to a billion dollars.”

Investing in a universal school food program would eventually reduce the financial burden on our healthcare system by reducing risks of diet-related chronic diseases and mental illness. “Canada is one of the only industrialized countries that does not invest in its children this way, and it’s time they stepped up to the plate,” according to Bronson.

By building on existing programs across the country, this investment would eventually allow all schools to serve a healthy meal or snack to Canadian children at little or no cost to their families. This proposition is detailed in the position paper that was just released by the Coalition for Healthy School Food and available at foodsecurecanada.org/CHSF2015.

A growing body of research demonstrates the potential of school food programs to improve food choices, support academic achievement for all students, as well as contribute to students’ physical and mental health. “Almost 90 per cent of the schools In Newfoundland and Labrador have a Kids Eat Smart Breakfast Club that provides healthy and nutritious food in an inclusive environment,” says Celina Stoyles, Executive Director of Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador. “Children then attend school well nourished and ready to learn. Our government, corporate, community partnership has truly made a difference in the lives of the children of our province. All children in Canada should receive the same opportunity.”

Food Secure Canada, that coordinates the Coalition, 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.

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For more information on the Coalition for Healthy School Food and Food Secure Canada:

Marie Élaine LaRochelle
Communications and Membership Coordinator, FSC
514 271-7352
Cell: 514 502-8585

For stories on how these programs benefit kids:

In St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador:

Sonya Smith

Director of Communications & Fund Development, Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador
709 722-1996

In Montreal, Quebec:
Benoit DeGuire
Director, La Relance
514 525-1508 ext.235
Cell: 514 795-7041

In Toronto, Ontario:
Debbie Field
Executive Director, FoodShare Toronto
416 363-6441 ext.228
Cell: 416 576-7349

In Halifax, Nova Scotia:
Margo Riebe-Butt, RD
Executive Director, Nourish Nova Scotia
Cell: 902 456-1771