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Proposals for a National School Nutritious Meal Program

In October 2022, the Coalition submitted Proposals for a National School Nutritious Meal Program, a 23-page document informed by our 220+ organizational members that summarizes our recommendations and evidence, to Ministers Bibeau and Gould. As a part of the Policy consultation process we have re-submitted our proposals to the Government to inform their consultation and are now sharing this document.


For anyone who wishes to make use of it - please use, reference and share it widely!


The Coalition for Healthy School Food was delighted with the historic federal commitment in 2021 in the mandate letters of Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau and Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould “to work with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous partners and stakeholders to develop a National School Food Policy and to work towards a national school nutritious meal program.”


In the fall of 2022 the government launched a robust process, Consultation on building a pan-Canadian school food policy to inform this Policy including roundtables, an online questionnaire, visits to school food programs and community meetings. The Coalition has fully encouraged their process and we applaud Ministers Karina Gould and Marie-Claude Bibeau’s efforts to hear diverse perspectives from across the country to inform the best possible program for Canada.


We are pleased to share our proposals to further inform the consultation process.



Proposals for a National School Nutritious Meal Program - Executive Summary:


How to deliver on the Government’s commitments to develop a National School Food Policy

and work toward a National School Nutritious Meal Program as a critical element of the

Government’s evolving Food Policy for Canada.


RECOMMENDATIONS


1) The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Minister of Families, Children and

Social Development (the Ministers), in close collaboration with the Minister of Health,

the Minister of Indigenous Services and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations,

lead consultations and collaboration with provinces, territories, municipalities,

Indigenous partners, experts and other partners and stakeholders in the development of

proposals for Cabinet consideration on a National School Food Policy (the Policy) and a

National School Nutritious Meal Program (the Program), along the lines of the Strategy,

Guiding Principles, Program Elements, Roles, and Funding Arrangements set out in

Appendix A.


2) While placing greatest priority on addressing the immediate nutrition needs of school

children to the maximum extent possible within available new resources, the Program

also includes sufficient measures to test, demonstrate and assess longer-term school

food needs and opportunities in support of a robust permanent Program.


3) Following further consultation and engagement with partners and stakeholders in the

initial years of the Policy and Program, the Ministers return to Cabinet within three years

with a report on results and interim findings, together with proposals for a more

comprehensive and permanent Program as an integral and ongoing element of a

National School Food Policy.


4) While allocating a reasonable portion of initial Program funding to help meet immediate

nutrition needs of Indigenous school children, the Ministers initiate immediate

consultations and collaboration with Indigenous leadership on the urgent development,

for Cabinet consideration, of proposals for the creation and/or enhancement of

independent, self-managed and distinctions-based nutritious meal programs for First

Nation, Métis and Inuit school children, in recognition of their unique needs, traditions

and priorities, and in line with federal obligations and commitments for reconciliation,

Indigenous self-determination and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of

Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).


5) In designing the Program, close consideration be given to the eight Guiding Principles set

out in Appendix A, particularly with regard to: the integration of consistent standards

and best practices for application across Canada; alignment with Canada’s Food Guide;

strengthening of controls against food marketing to children; and emphasis on dignified,

universal access and local food procurement.


6) The Ministers consult and collaborate with the Coalition for Healthy School Food—

including through a possible school food advisory committee of objective experts and

stakeholders that have no commercial conflicts of interest—in the development and

subsequent launch, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Policy and

Program.


Access the full document here. And here is the French version.

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