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Coalition welcomes the What We Heard Report!

Download the PDF version of our media release here.

October 31, 2023 - The Coalition for Healthy School Food is pleased that the Government of Canada released the What We Heard Report on the National School Food Policy Engagements today. The public consultations took place nearly a year ago and stakeholders across the country have been waiting patiently to learn about the report’s findings.

The What We Heard Report makes it clear that Canadians support a national school food program, with around 96% of participants responding that programs benefit children. The report also acknowledges that “growing access to healthy and nutritious food could benefit all Canadian children”, reflecting the perspective shared by many participants, including children and youth, that a school food program available to every child and youth in Canada would have significant benefits for their health and wellbeing.

“This report clearly shows that the public wants the federal government to implement a school food program that aligns with best practices in research,” said Carolyn Webb, the Coalition’s Knowledge and Mobilization coordinator. “Those consulted want a program that is healthy, universal, and cost-shared with provincial and territorial governments. Participants want to see a program that is flexible of community needs, complements existing programs, reflects cultural diversity, supports local food systems, links to food literacy and education, enables Indigenous control over programs in Indigenous communities, and has strong guidance and accountability measures. These values are consistent with the Coalition’s 8 Guiding Principles.”

“The Coalition fully agrees with the concerns expressed in the report about using any kind of means testing for program delivery and in ensuring that the program supports all students in a school or grade”, said Danie Martin, Coordinator of the Collectif Québécois. “As quoted by a child in the report: “everyone matters.”

The report also highlights many different priorities that participants believe a school food Policy and program could advance. Responses show the strong role for many federal Ministries in the implementation of a Policy and program, including the opportunity for the Ministry of Health to have children and youth model Canada’s Food Guide, and the benefits that could be had through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s support for local food and economic development.

House of Commons initiatives on school food

Along with the What we Heard Report, MP Serge Cormier’s Private Member Bill C-322 will be

discussed in the House of Commons on Wednesday November 1, 2023. Bill C-322, if passed,

would lay a legislative basis for a long-term school food strategy.

MP Julie Dabrusin will also be reading an online petition on school food in the House of

Commons on the afternoon of Thursday November 2nd. The petition received nearly 2000

signatures and ends with: “We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the

Government of Canada to provide $1 billion over 5 years for school food with an immediate

investment of $200 million in Budget 2024, an investment, negotiated with provinces, territories and Indigenous leaders, which will help children develop the food and nutrition habits they need to lead healthy lives and succeed at school.”

”This government prides itself on prioritizing gender equity and investing in important initiatives like the Child Tax Benefit and the Childcare Program that support women and families,” said Debbie Field, National Coordinator of the Coalition for Healthy School Food. ”Now is the time for it to honour its commitments and put some money behind the “What We Heard Report”. At a time when families in Canada are experiencing so many challenges, this report points to a way that the government can support Canadian households. Families across the country will welcome the development of a national school food program.”



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