Government of Canada opens consultations with Canadians on a national school food policy

News release

Responses will help the Government of Canada set the groundwork to improve children’s access to nutritious food at school

November 16, 2022          Ottawa, Ontario                   Employment and Social Development Canada

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 the opening of the consultations with Canadians to seek feedback on a national school food policy.

The input received through the online questionnaire will help build towards a national 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.

A national 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 exist. The Government wants to hear the diverse perspectives of Canadians to learn from their experiences with school food programs. In addition to the online questionnaire, the Government of Canada has launched a series of thematic roundtable discussions with key stakeholders, such as the Breakfast Club of Canada and Ottawa Network for Education, as well as including teachers, school administrators, parents, children and youth. The Government of Canada is also engaging directly with Indigenous partners, provinces and territories.

The online questionnaire will be available on the Government of Canada’s Consulting with Canadians webpage from November 16 to December 16. 

Quotes

“Every child should have access to the healthy food they need to grow and learn. I am looking forward to hearing Canadians’ diverse views on what they want and need out of a school food policy.  A national 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.”

– Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould

“When we launched the first-ever Food Policy for Canada in 2019, working towards a National School Food Program was deemed as critically important. Every child, no matter where they live, deserves access to safe, nutritious, and culturally diverse food to reach their full potential.”

– Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau 

“Breakfast Club of Canada is proud to be working with the federal government and the school nutrition ecosystem in what is the first step towards a national school food policy. This collective effort will certainly help ensure that more children in our country have access to nutritious meals at school, which enables them to increase their energy levels, improve their learning capacities and reach their full potential as soon as possible.”

– Co-Founder & Government Relations Director of Breakfast Club of Canada, Judith Barry

“For more than 30 years, the Ottawa Network for Education with support from national, provincial, and local partners, has provided nutritious meals to Ottawa’s students. Every school day, more than 14,500 students in 200 local schools participate in our School Breakfast Program. We know the positive impact school meals can have on a child’s health, well-being and learning and we are eager to support the federal government and key partners on the development of a national school food policy.” 

– President and CEO of Ottawa Network for Education, Heather Norris

Quick facts

  • Budget 2019 included more than $134 million over five years to support the Food Policy for Canada 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 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 2020, 49.5% of persons in Nunavut, 20.4 % of persons in the Northwest Territories, and 21.2% of persons in the Yukon experienced moderate or severe food insecurity. 

  • According to the 2018 Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children Survey, up to 1 in 5 young people report going to school or bed hungry at least sometimes because there is not enough food at home.

Associated links

Contacts

For media enquiries, please contact:

Mohammad Hussain
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould
mohammad.a.hussain@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
819-994-5559
media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
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