- Recommendations will help the Government of Canada improve children's access to nutritious food while at school -

One in five children in Canada are at risk of going to school hungry on any given day. School meal programs can help reduce hunger and food insecurity, improve children's access to nutritious food, improve academic outcomes and achievement, and help support families by reducing food costs. Today, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould, announced that the Government of Canada has launched consultations to develop a pan-Canadian school food policy and explore how more Canadian children can receive nutritious food at school.

Following these consultations with provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous partners and stakeholders, the policy will seek to guide the expansion of school meal programming based on key principles and objectives, while ensuring a flexible approach that leaves room for local adaptation. It will also seek to establish a foundation for greater collaboration and investment, so that more children have access to nutritious food in school. Engagement with Indigenous partners will help ensure that the policy reflects the unique and diverse needs of Indigenous children.

A pan-Canadian school food policy needs to take into account the diverse realities of children in Canada, their families and their schools, and it should constructively build on the programs that already exists. That is why the Government wants to hear directly from Canadians with diverse perspectives and learn from their experiences with school food programs. In addition to roundtable discussions with key stakeholder groups, including children and youth, the Government of Canada will be launching an online questionnaire on its Consulting with Canadians webpage in November, where all Canadians will be welcome to share their perspectives to help inform the development of a pan-Canadian school food policy.

The input received through these consultations will help build a pan-Canadian school food policy that is responsive to the evolving needs of children and families, while also setting a foundation for a future where more children in Canada have access to nutritious food while at school.

"Too many children at school are trying to learn on empty stomachs, and too many Canadian families are not able to reliably access healthy food. We know that a pan-Canadian approach to school food has the potential to improve the overall health of our children as they learn, leading to better futures for them and for Canada. Every child should have access to the healthy food they need to grow and learn."
– Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould

Quick Facts

• Budget 2019 included more than $134 million over five years to support the Food Policy to strengthen food systems and improve food security, and a commitment to work with provinces and territories towards the creation of a National School Food Program.
• Budget 2022 reaffirmed the December 2021 mandate letter commitments for the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food by directing them to work with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous partners and stakeholders to develop a National School Food Policy and to explore how more Canadian children can receive nutritious food at school.
• Based on the 2020 Canadian Income Survey and the 2021 PROOF report "Household Food Insecurity in Canada", 15.9% of households in the ten provinces experienced some level of food insecurity in the past year. This amounts to 5.8 million people, including almost 1.4 million children under the age of 18.
• Food insecurity is especially high in the North. As of 2019, 46.1% of households in Nunavut, 23.1% of households in the Northwest Territories, and 15.3% of households in the Yukon experienced moderate or severe food insecurity.

SOURCE: Employment and Social Development Canada

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