Student Nutrition Programs
“Student nutrition programs provide healthy meals and snacks to children and youth. Every day, 160,000 Toronto students participate in these breakfast, snack and lunch programs”
In 1991, to address the hunger of students at inner city schools, the Coalition for Student Nutrition was formed by Toronto City Councilor Jack Layton, his executive assistant Dan Leckie, Metro Councillor Dale Martin, his executive assistant Debbie Field, School Trustees Olivia Chow and Pam McConnell, and community groups like FoodShare.
Fiona Knight, a FoodShare community outreach worker, advocated for nutrition programs for all students cost shared by the community, government and parents rather than a program targeted to students from low-income families. These recommendations were adopted by the Coalition for Student Nutrition, which helped to create the model for school food programs across Canada. The Toronto Food Policy Council and FoodShare have worked with the Student Nutrition Coalition to expand school food programs in the City from 53 to 350. They also helped to persuade the provincial government to fund student nutrition programs.
In 2012 the Medical Officer of Health issued a report entitled, Nourishing Young Minds – A Review of the Student Nutrition Program in Toronto. In September of 2012 the Toronto Board of Health endorsed the net increase of funding to municipal student nutrition programs for 2013 and endorsed in principle the proposed five year plan for stabilization of existing Student Nutrition Programs in Toronto, with an incremental increase in municipal investment over the next five years to provide up to 20% of estimated program costs. In October of 2012 a staff report outlining priorities and a proposed expansion of student nutrition programs in high needs schools from 2013 to 2017 was presented to the Board of Health and endorsed. This increase in program funding has allowed for the expansion of student nutrition program across the city.