TORONTO, May 7, 2019 – UNICEF Canada is encouraged by the momentum toward the establishment of a national school food program, and endorses Bill C-446, An Act to Develop a National School Food Program for Children, tabled today by MP Don Davies (Member for Vancouver Kingsway).
One in six children in Canada—including two in every three Inuit children—lacks food security, making Canada is one of the worst performers internationally in access to food and childhood nutrition. A patchwork of local and municipal programs only reaches a small percentage of Canada’s 5 million school-age children. A national school food program would help address that by ensuring all students receive at least one healthy meal a day.
Publicly funded school meals are the norm internationally, and Canada is currently the only G7 nation that does not have a national school food program. “The United States has a national school lunch program that feeds over 30 million kids every day” said Rowena Pinto, UNICEF Canada’s Chief Program Officer. “Canadian students deserve the same. This program would make an immediate and impactful difference in students’ lives.”
Canada currently ranks 37th out of 41 wealthy countries in food security and nutrition. Because consistent access to healthy food is the backbone of a fulfilling childhood, the failure to address child food insecurity is also a major contributor to Canada’s consistent underperformance in the overall UNICEF Report Card on Child and Youth Well-being.
UNICEF Canada was further encouraged to see the Government of Canada reaffirm its commitment to developing “A Food Policy for Canada” in its 2019 budget. As a member of the Coalition for Healthy School Food, we echo the almost 3,700 Canadians who signed the petition presented in parliament yesterday calling for that policy to include “an adequately-funded national cost-shared universal healthy school food program.”
About UNICEF Canada’s One Youth
From 25th to 1st place, UNICEF Canada’s One Youth is working to make Canada the best place in the world to grow up in. As the global UN agency for kids, UNICEF has worked to improve conditions for every child around the world for more than 70 years, and has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. UNICEF Canada’s One Youth brings that work to Canada, by building the new gold standard for measuring child well-being, and developing and testing innovative solutions to the challenges they face. We are calling on Canadians to take action and do better for children and youth.
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