December 16, 2021 was a historic moment for school food in Canada as the federal government released the mandate letters to members of the cabinet, marking the first-ever inclusion of a commitment "to develop a National School Food Policy and work towards a national school nutritious meal program."
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau's mandate letter included:
In support of A Food Policy for Canada, continue to strengthen Canada's food system by:
Working with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous partners and stakeholders to develop a National School Food Policy and to work toward a national school nutritious meal program; and
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development's Karina Gould mandate letter included:
Work with the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous partners and stakeholders to develop a National School Food Policy and work toward a national school nutritious meal program.
Through we had hoped school food would also be included in the Minister of Health's mandate letter, we knew that from the government’s point of view it would be included in their commitment to a Food Policy for Canada (in the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food’s mandate), to work with the Minister of Children, Families and Social Development (often responsible for designing social programs like the recent childcare program). At the same time, we were pleased to see that the Minister of Health’s mandate letter included a commitment to the Healthy Eating Strategy and two issues that are very connected to a School Food Program for Canada. This will allow us to engage the Minister of Health in helping to ensure integrating the Canadian Food Guide as a guiding principle of the upcoming school food policy.
Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos mandate letter included:
Recognizing that a healthy population is key to reducing vulnerability to health events, promote healthy eating by advancing the Healthy Eating Strategy. This includes finalizing the front-of-package labelling to promote healthy food choices and supporting restrictions on the commercial marketing of food and beverages to children.
The Coalition will write to Ministers Bibeau, Gould and Duclos and ask for meetings to discuss these mandates and share our guiding principles and 2022 pre-budget submission.
And we wanted to let you know that the day before, NDP MP Don Davies tabled "the School Food Program for Children Act" in Parliament. Here's the link to what MP Davies said in the house yesterday, including this quote:
A national #SchoolFoodProgram will give every student access to nutritious food and make healthy eating a daily lesson for our kids. No child should have to struggle through the day on an empty stomach.