I had introduced the topic of student meal programs with Daniel Dale of The Toronto Star in this feature. We have been and will continue to do ongoing entries on many platform pieces in the Robb Not Ford campaign, so let’s start the food discussion here.
Certainly one area of concern that is important to every citizen across Toronto’s diversity of communities is access to nutrition. In particular, continued funding for student nutrition programs is vital for the people of Toronto. With time taken up by working, commuting, and family commitments, many households recognize that coordinating healthy breakfasts and lunches can be difficult.
There are a wide variety of nutrition programs that have been implemented by communities across the GTA. A few of the major groups that work towards building nutrition programs are:
- With chapters across the country, the Breakfast Club of Canada has helped 130,000 students have access to a nutritious breakfast each morning in 1,266 schools.
- Feeding Our Future is Toronto specific program is run by the TDSB and focuses not only providing healthy meals to students, but also on ensuring that those who are part of the program gain a greater understanding of food handling and nutrition.
- Foodshare is local initiative to not only increase access to healthy food for students of all ages, but also to teach children about cooking and gardening activities that increase food literacy in order to promote lifelong positive eating habits.
The above programs, though 65% unfunded, are mainly run by involved and generous citizens. They also rely on funding from the municipal and provincial governments, with a proposed funding partnership model moving forward.
At various levels of school, teachers who had students participate in nutrition programs reported increased concentration and a calming effect on students. For young people who will soon be (or already are) active citizens of Toronto, as well as families as a whole, nutrition and its effects are often overlooked.
Toronto Public Health has recognized the fact that feeding children is not only important for their well-being today; it is an investment in the future. It is imperative that those who run the municipal government recognize that city funding for nutrition, in some cases at $1.51/day, can be a part of our budget. We believe in finding ways to support our children and ensure that they will be able to learn and enjoy their days without hunger getting in their way.