At an elementary school in Ahuntsic-Cartierville on Thursday, a classroom full of kids all got the same healthy lunch, and they got it for free.
“They’re eating wraps with hummus in it, cabbage, beets and carrots. They’re also getting a banana muffin, cole slaw salad, and an organic Quebec apple,” said Vanessa Girard-Tremblay of Share the Warmth.
A coalition of community groups, along with with the Commission Scolaire de Montreal offered the meals for one day. They wanted to make the point that the same thing should happen every day at every elementary and high school in the province.
“We have kids in our neighborhoods going to school hungry and leaving school hungry. We have to do something about it,” said Daniel Rotman, director of The Food Depot in NDG.
With less than two weeks to go in the election campaign, the community groups are calling on the major provincial parties to commit to free lunches for all Quebec school children.
“We are in a modern society. We have the means to do so and we should give that chance to our kids,” said Girard-Tremblay.
The groups said the initiative would cost $450 million, part of which would be an investment in local farms to help produce the food.
“We can use local agriculture, we can use local organizations, we can provide healthy lunches that respect cultural differences and the wills and desires of kids and parents,” Rotman said.
Jean-Philippe Vermette of Carrefour Alimentaire Centre-Sud attacked the government for using public money to subsidize video game companies instead of children.
“Take all this half-billion dollars and transfer it to schools to invest in agriculture and education,” he said.
“Countries like Brazil, France, everyone gets a free lunch. New York City, everyone gets a free lunch in public schools,” explained Rotman.
The PQ kicked off their election campaign promising inexpensive lunches for elementary school children at a cost of $39 million.
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None of the parties have promised free lunches for all.
“I think it’s an easy sell,” Rotman said.
In a statement to Global News, the CAQ pointed to their school tax reform ideas and said because of their pressure, the government already gives $100 per child for school supplies.
The Liberals spoke of the many measures they’ve proposed to make life easier for families, and how they already offer free breakfasts to underprivileged children.