FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Action Needed from Federal Government on Student Nutrition, says The Coalition for Healthy School Food
Toronto, October 24, 2016 – Following the announcement of Canada’s Health Minister, Jane Philpott, on new government approaches to healthy eating, the Coalition for Healthy School Foodis calling for the federal government to work with provinces to feed schoolchildren. Canada is one of the only industrialized countries without a national school food program to ensure all children are fed healthy food in schools every day.
The Coalition for Healthy School Food commends the announcements of a renewed Canada’s Food Guide, restriction of marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children, and of efforts to curb the consumption of sodium, sugar, and saturated and trans fats. Nonetheless, the Coalition believes that access to healthy food in schools must be increased in order to create a healthier next generation of Canadians.
Canada’s children and youth face serious food-related challenges: only one-third of children between the ages of 4 and 13 years eat five or more servings of vegetables and fruit daily; one-third of students in elementary schools and two-thirds of students in secondary schools do not eat a nutritious breakfast before school, leaving them at risk for learning, behavioural, and health challenges at school; and one-quarter of children’s calorie intakes are from food products not recommended in Canada’s Food Guide.
School food programs, which currently receive piecemeal funding from provinces and municipalities, have shown to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, improve physical and mental health, decrease behavioural and emotional problems, improve educational outcomes, and increase graduation rates. Given all the positive impacts, it is difficult to understand why Canada remains one of the only industrialized countries not to fund a school food program.
“Minister Philpott’s announcement of new measures to address healthy eating is encouraging,” says Sasha McNicoll, Coordinator of the Coalition for Healthy School Food at Food Secure Canada. “Health Canada should be looking at creating a national healthy school food program to improve child health.”
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Food Secure Canada is a pan-Canadian alliance of organizations and individuals working together to advance food security and food sovereignty through three inter-locking goals: zero hunger, healthy and safe food, and sustainable food systems. Food Secure Canada convenes theCoalition for Healthy School Food, which comprises over 30 regional, provincial and national organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of Canadians, working toward a national school food program for Canada.
Food Secure Canada
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