School trustee candidates play critical role in establishing a universal school food program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Summary

  • This election, the Coalition for Healthy School Food (“the Coalition”) is calling on school trustee

  • candidates to commit to supporting healthy, universal school food programs that meet guiding

  • principles.

  • School boards are urged to support school food programs by investing resources, developing

  • supportive policies, and helping schools and teachers in hands-on learning activities that

  • promote food literacy and healthy eating.

  • School boards are urged to advocate to provincial and federal governments for sustained public

  • investment in universal school food programs.

Victoria, B.C., September 12, 2022 – With last week’s provincial announcement of $60 million for school districts to “expand school meal programs,” the Coalition for Healthy School Food is calling on school trustee candidates to commit to healthy, universal school food programs in the BC general local elections on October 15, 2022.


“We are urging school trustee candidates in all 60 school districts to commit to investing in food programs that promote health and learning for all students this election,” said Samantha Gambling, Lead of the BC Chapter of the Coalition. “In particular, we ask school trustee candidates to commit to expanding or developing healthy, universal school food programs that meet guiding principles based on best practices.”


A universal school food program means that, where a program is in place, all students in the school have access to the meal or snack that is offered. School meal programs are more successful at supporting health and education goals when all students are welcome to participate. This is now the current policy in most provinces and territories.


Another guiding principle emphasizes the importance of embedding Indigenous food sovereignty within a School Food Program for Canada.


“With this new provincial funding, we need to hear and support all voices, and the diversity of Indigenous voices across BC,” said Sue-Anne Banks, Indigenous Lead at the BC Chapter of the Coalition. “As new school food programs are developed or expanded, it is critical that they respect cultural and traditional food practices and pedagogies.”


According to the BC Teachers Federation, healthy and culturally appropriate food for all students is a “key equity issue that necessitates concrete action to benefit all students and families.”


“School boards can play a central role in ensuring provincial funding is spent on school food programs, and investing supplementary resources for school food infrastructure, staffing, food procurement, professional development, and other needs,” said Shannon Turner, the Executive Director of the Public Health Association of BC, which administers the BC Chapter of the Coalition.


“School boards can develop district-wide policies and frameworks that support healthy, universal school food programs in their school district, and support schools and teachers in hands-on teaching and learning activities that promote food literacy and healthy eating,” elaborated Gambling.


Earlier this summer, the Vancouver School Board published its first-ever School Food Framework to “guide the resourcing and development of food-related programs, curriculum, and activities in all public schools in the District” (p.1).


“Local action is critical to ensure provincial and federal governments allocate ongoing funding for permanent programs,” said Gambling. “In BC, nine school boards have formally endorsed the Coalition’s call for public investment in a Canada-wide universal, cost-shared, healthy school food program for K-12 students, representing roughly a quarter of all students in BC.”


The BC School Trustees Association has advocated for public investment since 2018.


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The Coalition for Healthy School Food is a growing network of more than 200 non-profit member organizations from every province and territory (including 40+ organizations in British Columbia) advocating for public investment in and federal standards for a universal cost-shared school food program that would see all children having daily access to healthy food at school.


For more information:

Samantha Gambling

Coordinator

BC Chapter of the Coalition for Healthy School Food

bcschoolfood@phabc.org

604-652-3793




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