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Coalition calls on all cities to support a Canada-wide Universal School Food Program

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

Municipal governments are standing up for children and youth health and well-being.

June 15, 2021 - Great news for Toronto students and their parents as the June 8th Toronto City Council meeting confirmed its annual investment of $16,407,857 for student nutrition programs. As the largest city in Canada and the first to provide municipal school food funding starting in 1991, this ongoing Public Health support is crucial to the well-being of children and youth.

At this meeting Toronto also joined Vancouver and Victoria in calling for a universal Canada-wide school food program, passing a motion to “support the ongoing efforts of the Coalition for Healthy School Food to advocate for a universal healthy school food program based on the shared belief that all children and youth should have daily access to healthy food at school.”

The Coalition for Healthy School Food is urging all municipal governments to pass similar motions. “Municipal governments can play a crucial role in advocating for universal school food programs,” said Debbie Field, Coordinator of the Coalition for Healthy School Food. “Whether or not they provide direct funding, as do Toronto, Vancouver, Moncton and County of Kings (Nova Scotia), all cities can bring together the many players at the local level who have an interest in designing and operating successful school food programs.”

As the federal government moves to advance its 2019 Commitment to create a national school food program, and as provincial and territorial governments continue to expand their investment in funding school food programs, cities can play an important role.

Toronto City Council also voted to request that the Federal Government “provide ongoing core funding for a universal national school food program” and that the Provincial Government “increase its grant funding investment proportionally to match the increased City of Toronto investment.”

COVID has highlighted the need for all children to access healthy food at schools. A recent joint letter from all Medical Officers of Health and Directors of Education in Ontario stated: “school food programs are increasingly seen as vital contributors to students’ physical and mental health.” The letter noted the growing research showing the value of school food programs to improve food choices and support student success, including academic performance, reduced absenteeism, and student behaviour.”

The Coalition for Healthy School Food is a growing network of more than 160 non-profit member organizations from every province and territory advocating for public investment in and federal standards for a universal cost-shared school food program that would see all children having daily access to healthy food at school.

For more information: Contact Debbie Field, Coordinator Coalition for Healthy School Food,, 416 537-6856.

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