A new report from Nova Scotia’s auditor general finds that schools need to do a better job in offering nutritional foods.
The Healthy Food and Nutrition Policy for Nova Scotia public schools was implemented in 2009, and indicated that a review would take place every two years. But Kim Adair’s new report finds it has been six years since it was reviewed.
“The intent of the policy is that a child in the school system, no matter where they are in the province, whether it’s New Germany, Cape Breton or Halifax — that they all have the opportunity to have a healthy food choice when they’re at the school. And that is not happening,” she said.
Four different regional centres for education were surveyed. The report found that the breakfast programs are successful in offering heathy foods, but schools need to improve their nutritional lunch options.
“The department doesn’t know if healthy foods are served in schools because of the lack of monitoring,” she said.
“Schools can help model healthy eating because that’s where kids from age four to 18 spend most of their day. The province really has a crucial role to play in shaping their future.”
Sara Kirk, who was part of the research team that assessed the policy in 2014, said there have been no changes since then.
“What that means is that children are not getting nourished in school and that affects their health and well-being and their opportunity to learn as well,” said Kirk, who is a health promotions professor at Dalhousie University.
She noted that the policy is one of the best in the country.
“And then we don’t actually put the money into implementing it effectively. So to me, that’s a really missed opportunity,” she said.
The minister of education, Becky Druhan, said the province will accept the recommendations of the report and will start updating the policy.
“We know that its important for students to have access to healthy food not just for their learning but also for their overall well being and this is something we’ve prioritized,” Druhan said.