School board candidates talk about school food programs
With the announcement of a one-time $60 million grant for school districts to “expand school lunch programs” last month, the Coalition for Healthy School Food is calling on school board candidates to commit to healthy and universal school feeding programs
The Coalition is seeking the support of candidate administrators to set up a program where all students in the school have access to the meal or snack offered.
The organization believes that school boards can advocate for sustained public investment from provincial and federal governments to develop school food infrastructure across Canada.
The Herald has reached out to the four candidates running for school trustee in the upcoming Oct. 15 election to see what they think of the idea of a universal school food program. Here are their responses:
“It is a fact that good nutrition improves a student’s ability to learn and retain acquired knowledge. With the announcement of the government’s intention to provide school districts with $60 million to expand school lunch programs, it’s important to note whether the funding is an annual event or just a one-time cash injection. If the funding is a one-time incentive, it gives the board the ability to develop new programs that respect cultural and traditional food practices and pedagogies, as stated by Sue-Anne Banks of the BC Chapter. of the Coalition. Councils should develop an infrastructure to meet specific goals and objectives to provide a greater range of meal options. This may involve facility modifications as well as additional equipment purchased to expand the scope of meal delivery. If funding is continued, boards will have a greater ability to provide culturally diverse menus, increasing student awareness of different foods that are healthy alternatives. This in itself becomes a learning event.
“I believe that students who are hungry don’t learn as effectively as those who are fed. Malnourished or malnourished children cannot concentrate and retain information the same way they would if they were not hungry. I believe it is the responsibility of the school district to ensure that all of our students reach their full potential, and Universal Food Programs have proven to be an effective tool in achieving this.
SD58 has implemented successful food programs in some schools, and I believe there is scope to expand these programs to others. These programs are most effective when they are accessible to all students in the school, and that is how I think they should be offered. These programs would not only ensure that our students are properly nourished every school day, but also teach them about healthy eating along the way. »
“In my previous role as BCSTA Chair, I advocated with provincial and federal Ministers of Health regarding my support and administrators’ support for universal school feeding programs. Good nutrition is a key factor in ensuring the lifelong health and success of children and youth. Establishing healthy eating habits, along with providing appropriate foods during a student’s developmental years, is essential to establishing not only a foundation for success in school, but a foundation for overall health. throughout life.
We know that students come to school hungry every day and that only 1/3 of children in Canada eat the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. School food programs increase children’s consumption of healthy foods and decrease consumption of unhealthy foods; improve student mental health, improve cognitive skills; and increase academic success. Establishing these healthy habits will also lead to lower future health care costs.
“I am in favor of a universal food program for school-aged children. The press release talks about support for tuition and food programs. Anything the province can do to encourage better access to resources and healthy food for students will be welcomed by parents and this school district.
Our school district currently offers a hot lunch program in all schools, but the model is a user-pay model in which parents must fund the program on a voluntary basis. The funding will support the reduction of these costs and this is welcome. However, we can and must try to do better. The pandemic, floods, and fires have revealed the importance of access to healthy food for children and fired our school district’s imagination on how to support families in these tumultuous times. We have demonstrated a strong will and capacity to move this subject forward and we must go further.
I will advocate this locally and provincially as a trustee.
In addition to being accessible and healthy, the foods in the proposed program must also be culturally appropriate. The Coalition operates according to eight guiding principles. One is the commitment to Indigenous control over programs for Indigenous students.
“With this new provincial funding, we need to hear and support all of the voices and diversity of Indigenous voices in BC,” said Sue-Anne Banks, Indigenous Leader of the BC Chapter of the Coalition. “As new school food programs are developed or expanded, it is essential that they respect cultural and traditional food practices and pedagogies.
School boards are meant to be an integral part of efforts to ensure the province invests in school food programs.
“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,” said Samantha Gambling, Coalition BC Chapter Leader.
“We urge school board candidates in all 60 school districts to commit to investing in food programs that promote health and learning for all students this election.”
Learn more about the Coalition for Healthy School Food. Please visit www.healthyschoolfood.ca.