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Canada Unveils Blueprint for $1B School Meal Program

The Canadian Government has revealed plans to implement a $1 billion Canadian school meals program. The Plan will provide $200 million a year over the next 5 years to expand meal programs currently being funded by the provinces.

Canada School Lunch - © 2024 - N/L School Lunch Assoc.

Extra cash will allow an additional 400,000 children per year to have a healthy, balanced meal at least once a day.

“We’re introducing this new national school food program so that every single child across Canada can have a fair chance at a good, healthy life,” Deputy Prime Minister Christia Freeland said. “We want to get started as early as the 2024-2025 school year.”

Kids learn better when they have a full stomach, according to Debbie Field, coordinator of the Coalition for Healthy School Food. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that this will change the future of Canadian life and Canadian children’s health,” she told Global News.

Many reasons why

There are many other reasons to expand existing school lunch programs at this particular time.First and foremost, the government says 1 in every 4 Canadian kids don’t get enough to eat. At the same time, Canadian families are reporting that they regularly skip meals. And some parents say they go hungry so their kids can eat.

Recent surveys show that more Canadians than ever are spending less than they should on food each month. That means they’re most likely not getting the nutrition they need, according to Canada’s Food Guide recommendations.

Food bank visits are rising steadily across the country, even as food prices appear to be stabilizing globally.

Opposition caveats

The opposition Conservatives and New Democrats have been quick to point out that the governing Liberals have promised expanded school food program funding in the past. Both in their 2019 Budget and their 20231 election campaign.

“It has been years and years and nothing,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. “Canada is the only G7 country that doesn’t have a national school food program.” In other words, he’ll believe it when he sees it.

So will we…

~ Maggie J.

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