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Provinces, Territories, Municipalities invest $280M+ annually in school food

Updated: May 3

By : Sarah Keyes, Ontario Chapter Coordinator of the Coalition for Healthy School Food

The Coalition for Healthy School Food has been collecting data on provincial, territorial, and municipal investments in school food over the past year. [1]

As of the 2024-25 school year, the combined investment from provinces, territories, and municipalities is projected to be $288 million annually. Chart 1 shares the estimated amount of funding provided by each province, territory and municipality as well as per capita contributions per student in the province or territory. [2]

Chart 1

Many provinces and territories increased their investments in school food programs to respond to challenges of rising food costs and higher participation rates, which have been putting strains on programs across the country. Growing research and awareness of the social and economic benefits of investing in school food has also emerged over this period.

School food investments from 2022-24, which add to core annual school food funds, can be seen in Chart 2.

Chart 2:

Some provinces have significantly stepped up their school food funding to support new or expand existing programs. In 2024, these have included: 

  • The Government of Quebec committed $34 million over 5 years ($6.8M / year) in Budget 2024, bringing their core annual funding for school food up to just below $69 million per year.

  • The Nova Scotia government announced $18.8 million to launch a new lunch program for students in the public school system. The program will roll out over four years and build to an estimated $100 million annual investment by 2027–28. Previous (2022-23) provincial investment in school food was $1.7M per year.

  • The Manitoba government will invest $30 million annually to develop a universal school food program for the province. This is a significant shift from the $2.5 million per year in school food funding in 2022-23.

  • The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced an additional $3 million annually to expand the province’s school lunch program and to support an engagement process to determine the best way to roll out the funding into the future.

  • The City of Toronto increased their Student Nutrition Program funding by 8.5% or $1.49 million to account for rising costs and higher program demands. The City now invests over $19 million per year in student nutrition, making them the largest municipal school food contributor in Canada.

  • The Alberta government committed an additional one-time funding of $5 million for school food programs on February 26th. This one-time investment is in addition to the core annual investment of $20 million for school food.

This wave of school food investments was started off by British Columbia, who in Budget 2023 announced a historic $214 million over 3 years ($71.5 million / year) to support their new Feeding Futures program.

We are really proud of what has been achieved by our collective advocacy across the country, and we’ve heard from some of our members that the Coalition’s guiding principles are helping to inform program development as programs launch or expand across the country. 

The Coalition will continue to work towards significant school food investments from provinces and territories who have not yet increased their core annual investments. We will try to engage all provincial and territorial governments so they are prepared to match federal funding and work with the federal government to negotiate a shared agreement for a strong cost-shared school food program as soon as possible for the 2024-2025 school year.

[1] Our research was built on data collected in 2023 by the Breakfast Club of Canada.

[2] Provincial/Territorial/Municipal funding amounts were obtained from publicly available online sources and through direct communication with school food providers in some cases; data will be verified by academic partners in the coming months which could change the total value as P/T/M investments are officially confirmed.

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