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Urgent need for a national school food program in classrooms: B.C. group

The Coalition for Healthy School Food wants the federal government to create a national program.
A national school food program is needed, B.C. advocates are urging. (Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion file)

As kids returned to school this week, the Coalition for Healthy School Food is asking the federal government to create a national food program for students in need.

Coalition coordinator Debbie Field said Friday (Sept. 9) that soarings costs at the grocery store have left some parents but also school food programs struggling to provide students with meals.

“It is more important than ever for the federal government to advance its commitment to a national school food program.”

In December 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tasked his cabinet ministers to work with province leaders and other stakeholders to develop a nationwide school food program with a focus on nutrition.

School food programs are organized and funded on a province and territorial basis.

Canada is currently the only G7 country without a national school program. According to a 2017 UNICEF study, Canada ranks 37th out of the world’s 41 wealthiest countries for feeding schoolchildren.

Manitoba, B.C., Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador have all increased funding to these programs at a provincial level because of the rising cost of groceries and the positive impact these programs have on children.

On Aug. 29, the B.C. government announced a $60-million investment for schools. This “will help school districts make sure students are fed and have the school supplies they need to be successful this year,” the education ministry said in a statement at the time.

READ MORE: $60M between 60 school districts: B.C. announces one-time back-to-school fund

The Coalition is asking people to reach out to their local MP’s and encourage them to support a national school food program by visiting the Coalition’s website.

The Coalition is a network of over 200 non-profits and has over 100 endorsements from every province and territory.

READ MORE: B.C. food-aid programs seeing spike in hungry students amid high inflation, grocery costs

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Anna Burns

About the Author: Anna Burns

I cover health care, non-profits and social issues-related topics for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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