On June 15th, Senator Art Eggleton tabled a motion calling on the federal government to launch a national nutrition program for children and youth. The Coalition for Healthy School Food has been advocating for a national school food program since 2013. Coalition Coordinator Carolyn Webb explains that only one-third of students in Canada are eating enough fruits and vegetables, and one-third of elementary students and two-thirds of secondary students go to school without eating a nutritious breakfast.
She says, “Young people that participate in healthy school food programs show a higher intake of fruits and vegetables, increased physical and mental health, and better educational outcomes.” Past studies have also found that school food programs can contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular events and chronic disease.
The 2013 Adolescent Healthy Survey (AHS) report by McCreary Centre Society indicated 34% of BC students in grades 7 to 12 had fruit or vegetables only once or twice the day before taking the survey, far below the 7 to 8 servings recommended by the Canadian Food Guide. Additionally, the survey showed about 1 in 6 youth who indicated going to bed hungry at least sometimes also reported not having any food at home to eat for breakfast.
The audio recording of Senator Eggleton’s full presentation to the Senate can be accessed online (at time point 16:42:14). Debate about this motion will take place during the next sitting of the Senate.