Letter from Food Sharing Project in response to 2023 federal budget

Across Canada, one in three children risk going to school hungry, according to data from Statistics Canada. Kingston’s The Food Sharing Project is dismayed by the fact the federal government has yet to allocate funding to a national food program for Canadian students. Kingstonist file photo.

Editorial note: the following is a submitted letter to the editor regarding the 2023 federal budget, released on Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2023. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Kingstonist.


Disappointment is the word that comes to mind when we at The Food Sharing Project think of the lack of support for a national school food program in the federal budget released on March 28, 2023.

School nutrition programs exist in every Canadian province and territory, and the government had an opportunity to build on the amazing work of non-profits and volunteers to make a long-term investment in the health and well-being of our children. Enhancing existing programs with federal money would ensure that every Canadian child has at least one good meal a day, allowing them to take advantage of everything school has to offer.

Research and educators tell us that when children can access nutritious food at school, they are more engaged in their learning, can focus better on tasks, and can have more positive social interactions throughout the day. In addition, the fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein they enjoy at school helps to build healthy eating habits as adults. Healthy children save health-care dollars, and grow up to make meaningful contributions to their communities.

Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) data are from Polsky and Garriguet (2022), and Canadian Income Survey (CIS) data are from Statistics Canada (2022). The survey year for CCHS refers to the year of interview, whereas survey year for CIS refers to the year prior to the year of interview. The survey collection periods are indicated in parentheses. Food insecurity is assessed over the prior 12 months. Graph via Canadian Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention Journal (Government of Canada).

One in nine families in the city of Kingston and the counties of Frontenac and Lennox and Addington experience food insecurity. When we provide nutritious food for their children at school, they can pay rent, or put gas in the car to get to work. Between the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and grocery store prices which continue to sky-rocket, families are more than just struggling – they are rapidly falling behind. In their attempts to meet unrelenting need, organizations which fund school nutrition programs are also falling behind and many are facing the reality of running out of money before the end of this school year.

Over the next year, we will step up our efforts to advocate for the essential support our children need. We will build on conversations already started and we are hopeful that Canadian families will see an investment in the future with funding for a national school food program in the 2024 federal budget.

Sincerely,

Brenda Moore
Chair, Board of Directors
The Food Sharing Project


Share your views! Submit a Letter to the Editor or an Op/Ed article to Kingstonist’s Editor-in-Chief Tori Stafford at [email protected].

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