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December 17th, 2021

NDP proposes a national school food program for children in Canada

OTTAWA – This week NDP health critic Don Davies introduced a bill which would require the Minister of Health to develop a national school food program to ensure that all children in Canada have access to healthy food. As the rate of inflation rises and more families struggle to afford necessities like groceries, Davies says this program is a practical measure the federal government could use to make sure children aren’t going hungry.

“No child should have to struggle through the school day on an empty stomach. And yet, Canada remains among the few industrialized countries without a universal school food program,” said Davies. “Before COVID-19, more than one and a half million Canadian children lived in families that struggled to put food on the table. With the financial hardship of the pandemic and the rising cost of living, food insecurity has grown dramatically over the last two years. The government can’t stand by and do nothing while so many parents struggle to feed their kids.”

The Breakfast Club of Canada estimates that the number of children going to school on an empty stomach could increase between 50 and 80 per cent due to COVID-19. Food Banks Canada’s HungerCount 2021 report shows that visits to food banks have increased by 20 per cent nationally since the beginning of the pandemic, and one third of clients are now children.

“A national school food program will not only give every student in Canada access to nutritious food; it will make healthy eating a daily lesson for our kids. I hope all Parliamentarians will work together to support this vital health and social justice initiative,” added Davies.

The national school food program would operate at little or no direct cost to children or their families, build on existing school food programs across Canada. The program would use best practices from other jurisdictions and promote evidence-based healthy food education.