March 28, 2023
Disappointment is the word that comes to mind when we, at The Food Sharing Project, think of the lack of support for a national school food program in the federal budget released on March 28, 2023. School nutrition programs exist in every Canadian province and territory and the government had an opportunity to build on the amazing work of non-profits and volunteers to make a long-term investment in the health and well-being of our children. Enhancing existing programs with federal money will ensure that every Canadian child has at least one good meal a day, allowing them to take advantage of everything school has to offer.
Research and educators tell us that when children can access nutritious food at school, they are more engaged in their learning, can focus better on tasks and can have more positive social interactions throughout the day. In addition, the fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, dairy and protein they enjoy at school, helps to build healthy eating habits as adults. Healthy children save healthcare dollars and grow up to make meaningful contributions to their communities.
One in nine families in the city of Kingston and the counties of Frontenac and Lennox and Addington, experience food insecurity. When we provide nutritious food for their children at school, they can pay rent, or put gas in the car to get to work. Between the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and grocery store prices which continue to sky-rocket, families are more than just struggling; they are rapidly falling behind. In their attempts to meet unrelenting need, organizations which fund school nutrition programs are also falling behind and many are facing the reality of running out of money before the end of this school year.
Over the next year, we will step up our efforts to advocate for the essential support our children need. We will build on conversations already started and we are hopeful that Canadian families will see an investment in the future with funding for a national school food program in the 2024 federal budget.
Chair, Board of Directors, The Food Sharing Project
April 3, 2023, Kingston, Ontario