In January 2022 the Nova Scotia Coalition for Healthy School Food submitted its pre-budget submission in advance of the Nova Scotia 2022-23 budget and promoted investment in a school food program as an economic recovery strategy for the province. The submission began by stating that “The COVID-19 crisis has revealed that food, and in particular school food, is an essential public good like P-12 education and healthcare. Everyone deserves access to nourishing food in order to be healthy and achieve their potential.”
The submission made the case for schools as an ideal setting for infrastructure stimulus spending projects and that investment in school food infrastructure would help enhance existing programs, expand programming and provide a substantial boost to the province’s agricultural, food service and construction sectors.
The NS Chapter advocated for investment in school food programs to:
Support the NS Minister of Agriculture’s mandate to encourage and increase local food consumption.
Provide geographic equity across Nova Scotia.
Provide a setting for job creation and industry renewal through school retrofits; new kitchen and cafeteria construction; local food procurement; employment opportunities for cooks, chefs, and food service workers; equipment and supply purchases as well as professional services.
Support improved health, education and economic growth, with the equivalent of a $3 to $10 return on every dollar invested.
The NS Chapter offered the following recommendations to the NS government in light of a future federal investment:
Undertake a provincial consultation of stakeholders, including parents, to ensure buy-in and assess program needs respecting the diverse nature of NS communities, with special consideration for BIPOC families and cultural appropriateness
Dedicate matching funds for infrastructure required to deliver school food programs
Revise procurement policies to facilitate more local foods into schools
Develop a food literacy curriculum for integration into school food programs
Evaluate existing pilot programs that show potential for Nova Scotia
Devise regular training and professional development opportunities for all food service workers and ensure appropriate compensation, i.e. living wage
Invest in regional coordinators to support procurement, overall coordination, training, and adherence to school food program standards
To read the full submission, including detailed recommendations, click here.