Within Reach: a National School Food Program

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When we began our meeting on school food just before our assembly, none of the 30 people in the room imagined how much progress we would make in a few short days.  Not only did the Liberals and the NDP both commit to supporting a national, universal school food program in their election platforms,  but we founded a Coalition for Healthy School Food that is ready to hold them to account. The future is looking bright for those who understand that a federally funded universal healthy school food program is central to supporting our children’s health and wellbeing, and our local food economies.

Twenty-eight members of what was formerly called ‘the coalition behind Raising the Bar on School Food Programs’ met for two days to plan for the coming year.  We shared the activities of members across the country to advance a universal school food program within their school boards, cities and provinces.  We agreed on a strategy and message to unite our voices at the federal level, and three working groups were struck to continue the work towards making school food an issue in the upcoming federal election. The group was uplifted to receive confirmation of a start up grant from Québec en forme. 

School food was a hot topic throughout the Assembly. During the open space, a group was struck to discuss a conference on School Food in 2015; a panel of experts provided an overview of research being conducted across the country; another profiled School Food Programs that work in diverse settings including Indigenous communities.  Plans for the coming year were elaborated to host MPs and federal election candidates at school food programs across the country.  It’s clear that a National School Food Program has many supporters and that our movement is gaining momentum.

School Food: An issue we can all get behind

A Healthy School Food Program is an important pillar of a National Food Policy in Canada.  It has the potential to address much more than the pressing need for access to and education about healthy food for our next generation.  If done right, this program could see farmers being supported, local food hubs getting a boost and volunteer positions being transformed into reliable, fairly remunerated paid positions. 

“Let’s commit to carrying each other’s campaigns with us,” said Nick Saul during the final plenary of the assembly, “and be ready to get behind other issues when required.”  We have an opportunity now to advance a National School Food Program as a first step towards a National Food Policy for Canada.  Let’s see what we can do as a movement when we all get behind an issue.

News of the meeting was shared with participants at the conference of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest in Ottawa on November 25.  

For a recent article about this in the Canadian Medical Association Journal: Free Lunch is a Good Thing for Children.


Learn more about this Coalition: http://foodsecurecanada.org/community-networks/children-food or contact Amanda[a]foodsecurecanada[dot]org


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