June-August 2020, 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 of measures the federal government could take to restart the Canadian economy, as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Coalition for Healthy School Food took this opportunity to call on the government to stimulate the economy through a Healthy School Food Program for Canada. Such an investment would support job creation in agriculture, food service, construction and other hard-hit sectors while helping to strengthen the health and wellbeing of students, their families and communities.
We recommend that the Government of Canada:
Allocate $200 million towards a dedicated School Food Fund to support the health and wellbeing of children, families and communities, stimulate the Canadian economy and inform the government's development of a National School Food Program.
Allocate $360 million as the Year 1 investment in a cost-shared, universal National School Food Program with strong national standards to improve the health of our children, support families experiencing food insecurity, and reduce the $13.8 billion in costs of treatment and productivity losses due to nutrition-related chronic disease in Canada.
We pointed to how an investment in school food would support job creation in agriculture, food service, construction and other hard-hit sectors while helping to strengthen the health and well-being of students, their families and communities.
We stated that an investment in school food could support infrastructure and equipment such as kitchen and cafeteria retrofits, greenhouses and gardens, and the purchase of appliances and tools, with an emphasis on purchasing from Canadian retailers and manufacturers.
We pointed to how a national school food program could provide other quantifiable benefits including: better health for our children and youth, reduced costs and time outputs for families and especially women, and reduced impacts on the environment.
We also identified how a National School Food Program would take pressure off of the family budget and be a support for the millions of children and youth who are unable to access healthy food at this time.
Read our full pre-budget submission, which shares more details about the benefits that the development of a National School Food Program could achieve for the Canadian economy and health of children, youth and families in Canada.