What We Heard Report on the National School Food Policy Engagements

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Author: admin

Posted: November 3, 2023

Categories: Edible Education Network / GoodFoodBites / Local Procurement / Policy News / School Food News

A school food roundtable conversation held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in fall 2022. Then federal Minister Gould travelled across the country throughout 2022/23 to hear from school food program providers.

On October 31, 2023, the Government of Canada released the What We Heard Report on the National School Food Policy Engagements. The public consultations that informed the report took place nearly a year ago and stakeholders across the country have been waiting to learn about the report’s findings.

The What We Heard Report makes it clear that Canadians support a national school food program, with around 96% of participants responding that programs benefit children. The report also acknowledges that “growing access to healthy and nutritious food could benefit all Canadian children”.

Some of the feedback shared by participants includes:

  • That a school food program available to every child and youth in Canada would have significant benefits for their health and wellbeing.
  • That those consulted want a program that is healthy, universal, and cost-shared with provincial and territorial governments.
  • That the public wants a national program that is flexible of community needs, complements existing programs, reflects cultural diversity, supports local food systems, links to food literacy and education, enables Indigenous control over programs in Indigenous communities, and has strong guidance and accountability measures. These values are consistent with the Coalition for Healthy School Food’s 8 Guiding Principles.
  • That those consulted have concerns about using any kind of means testing for program delivery or targeting of the program to only some students in a grade or school.

The report also highlights many different priorities that participants believe a school food policy and program could advance. Responses show the strong role for many federal Ministries in the implementation of a Policy and program, including the opportunity for the Ministry of Health to have children and youth model Canada’s Food Guide, and the benefits that could be had through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s support for local food and economic development.

The Coalition for Healthy School Food and Ontario Chapter are now pressing the federal government to honour the consultation’s feedback, as well as the Liberal platform commitment, by investing in a national program.

Access the full What We Heard Report here.