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Going the Distance to Ottawa: Students Speak Out for School Food!

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

By: Brent Mansfield, Elementary School Teacher (K-7), Lord Roberts Elementary School, Vancouver, B.C.

On October 27, I ran around my school 200 times, over 92km in total, to call on the Government of Canada to honour its commitment to invest $200 million every year, for 5 years, for a national school food program. Running in a circle for 11+ hours, with students joining me and cheering on, was extremely challenging both physically and mentally; but with every lap, I imagined what $200 million would do for students in schools across Canada.

My vision for the future of school food programs is largely inspired by my experiences partnering with Growing Chefs to create an educational lunch program called LunchLAB (see here for a 7-minute film about the program). LunchLAB empowers students to prepare food for themselves and their peers with the mentorship of a team of chefs-in-residence. I hope LunchLAB and other programs like it can help spark imagination for what school food programs could look like with public investment and diverse school community partnerships to help the programs thrive.

As part of this Going the Distance campaign, students from my school wrote letters to the Prime Minister and our local Member of Parliament explaining why school food matters to them and why investment in healthy school food is a good idea. On November 30 I will be taking these student-written letters to Ottawa. I plan to run around the House of Commons (details tbc) and once more, ask the Government of Canada to honour its commitment to a national school food program. I plan to invite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is a known runner and former teacher, to come out to join me.

We need your help to let the Federal Government know that all students deserve access to healthy food at school. Now is the time for them to fulfill their promise to invest in school food, to support the health and learning of all students across Canada.

We are asking students and teachers across Canada to write letters to the Prime Minister and their local Members of Parliament, urging them to honour their $200 million commitment for a national school food program in Budget 2024.

If you want me to hand deliver your letters, hand-written if possible, to the House of Commons on November 30, please ensure to have your letters mailed in time to arrive in Ottawa by November 29. I’d love to go with letters from students from every province and territory. Alternatively, you can drop off or mail your letters to the office of your MP on November 30.

See here for background information to help write a letter, including a sample letter template, which was used by Grade 5-7 students at Lord Roberts that wrote letters.

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