Updated: Oct 2, 2019
In June-August 2019, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance invited Canadians to share their input and priorities for the next federal budget — particularly surrounding the theme, Climate Emergency: The Required Transition to a Low Carbon Economy.
The Coalition for Healthy School Food took this opportunity to call on the government to invest in the health of our children and the state of our climate through a Healthy School Food Program for Canada.
We recommended the Government of Canada invest $360 million a year in a cost-shared universal, healthy school food program, with the eventual goal of universal coverage, to improve the health of our children, the health of our planet, and significantly reduce the $13.8 billion in costs of the treatment of and productivity losses due to nutrition-related chronic disease in Canada.
We pointed to evidence that shows that school food programs increase consumption of healthy foods, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and improve mental health.
We shared that a program that follows and promotes the 2019 Canada’s Food Guide Snapshot would help students develop a palate for fresh vegetables, fruit, and plant proteins, which is consistent with a diet that emits low amounts of greenhouse gasses.
We stated that a School Food Program for Canada would provide an excellent opportunity for schools to put into practice and model the revised Canada’s Food Guide, enabling students to develop the taste receptivity for nutritious foods, food literacy, and habits needed for a lifetime of healthy eating.
We shared that, when designed with sustainability goals in mind, school food programs can provide a strong opportunity for students to learn, in a hands-on way, how to choose local and sustainable food, how to minimize food waste (a huge contributor to climate change), and how to compost.
We explained that, based on recent research, a national program could contribute $4.8 billion to the local economy by 2029 if 30% was spent on local food purchases as well as stimulate the development of as many as 207,700 new jobs.
Thus, we urged the government to include the development of a School Food Program for Canada in the mandate letter of the next Minister of Health; as well as to consult with provinces, territories, not-for-profit organizations, students, parents and Indigenous leaders to advance the health of future generations, the Canadian economy, and the health of our planet.