Canada is the only G8 country without a national program
OTTAWA, Aug. 27, 2013 /CNW/ - All schools in all provinces and
territories should provide meal programs to help their students
alleviate hunger and poor nutrition and to support their performance at
school, The Conference Board of Canada recommends in a new report from
its Centre for Food in Canada.
Children and youth are over-represented among the almost two million
individuals in Canada that suffer from "food insecurity" - a situation
in which nutritious food is sometimes or always unavailable or
"As students head back to school this fall, only some will have the
benefit of good meal programs operating across the country. Canada is
the only G8 country without a national school-based feeding program,"
said Alison Howard, Principal Research Associate, and co-author ofEnough for All: Household Food Security in Canada.
"Children that lack proper diets are less able to concentrate and
perform well at school, which makes it more difficult to learn the
skills they will need as adults. Ensuring that all children and youth
have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious foods for their everyday
activities are critical for a vulnerable population."
- Household food insecurity is defined as a state in where nutritious food
is unavailable or unaffordable, or the supply is not stable. About 7.7
per cent of Canadian households were "food insecure" in 2007-08.
- Household income has the greatest impact on whether a household or
family will be food insecure.
- Children that are deprived of proper diets are both less healthy and
less likely to succeed at school, which affects their physical and
economic well-being for the rest of their lives.
This report recommends that all 13 provincial and territorial
governments participate in a pan-Canadian program that provides or
manages funding for breakfasts or lunches and/or snacks in each school
or school board. If programs cannot be free of charge to students, fees
should be based on the income level of each participating family.
Ongoing assessments of effectiveness and results must also be part of
any school meal program.
Household food insecurity is associated with poor health in both adults
and children. Among children in particular, food insecurity is
associated with poor academic achievement, and health problems. Almost
10 per cent of households with children said they felt insecure about
their access to affordable and nutritious food, compared to less than
seven per cent of households without children.
In addition to implementing a pan-Canadian school nutrition program, the
report identifies several other short-term and long-term solutions.
Support collaboration among industry, government, and communities to
make food more accessible to households.
Increase support for outreach efforts to the isolated and at-risk
populations, such as Aboriginal peoples, lone-parent families, women,
children, recent immigrants and the elderly.
Encourage volunteerism and engagement in food security initiatives.
Improve food literacy levels, through, for example, educating the public
on buying and cooking nutritious meals.
Make public transportation more affordable for low-income households so
that individuals can travel to grocery stores and other places to
obtain nutritious food.
Ensure agricultural policies address household food security through,
for example, subsidies for fruit and vegetable products, producers and
Invest in strategies to address low income/poverty, since household
income is the strongest predictor of food security or insecurity.
Track, study, and evaluate household food security initiatives to find
effective programs to support and replicate.
The principal goal of the Centre for Food in Canada is to engage
stakeholders from business, government, academia, associations, and
communities in creating a Canadian Food Strategy —one that will meet the country's need for a coordinated, long-term
strategy on industry prosperity, healthy and safe food, household food
security, and environmental sustainability.
SOURCE: Conference Board of Canada