National school meal program needed to address food insecurity: report

Children eating lunch at school; File photo. File/John Moore/Getty Images

OTTAWA – A new report is recommending that provincial and territorial governments create a pan-Canadian program to fund school meals for vulnerable children.

The study – released today by the Conference Board of Canada – addresses lack of access to nutritious and affordable food.

Researchers say almost 10 per cent of Canadian households with children faced food insecurity in 2007-08 compared to less than seven per cent for homes without children.

The report’s lead author says when children lack nutritious diets, their performance in school is hindered and this can have long-lasting impacts on their skills as adults.

“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 report co-author Alison Howard.

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The study suggests that a national meal program could base any fees for participation on household income, which is one of the main predicting factors of food insecurity.

The report follows a study released last month that found nearly one in eight Canadian households couldn’t access sufficient, safe and nutritious food in 2011, and suggested food insecurity is a growing problem in most of the country.

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