LETTER: Canada’s still missing school lunch program a national disgrace

To the Editor,

In the roiling pot of high-profile Council priorities, which include such vital matters as climate, affordability, harbours, primary healthcare, water, County Road 49 and other infrastructure renewal, plus overall land use to name just a few… it is easy to overlook some of the little Horseshoe things that are, well, not so little.

Take, for example, the June 15th plea by the Hastings & Prince Edward Learning Foundation for Council to continue supporting the “Feed The Meter Campaign,” which, in turn, supports our County kids’ student nutrition programs.

We certainly did that and then a few weeks later, on July 25th, Council took a step much further.

No child deserves to be hungry at school; and school nutrition shouldn’t depend on parking meter donations.

On July 25th, Council recognized that 1 in 4 children in Canada, and possibly 1 in 3 in Prince Edward County, live in a food insecure household; and unanimously asserted that food insecurity is a serious and growing social and public health concern that leaves an indelible mark on a child’s well-being.

And that, in this time of unprecedented and unpredictable food and inflation challenges, something much more resilient and sustainable is required, especially as the Canada Child Benefit hasn’t seen a meaningful reform since 2016.

Indeed, the Canadian Medical Association published that same week that the clinical impact of a lack of healthy food on mental health results in a 60% higher likelihood of relying on healthcare systems for substance abuse disorders and a 74 per cent greater prevalence of emergency department and hospital admissions.

Sadly, this is just the latest in a tsunami of data advocating urgent reform.

To press the point, the Motion passed on July 25th also points to Canada as the only G7 country, and one of the only OECD counties, without a national school food program.

In addition, it calls on Ottawa for a more equitable Canada Child Benefit focussing on low-income families struggling to make ends meet. It also calls on the Federal government to expedite its 2021 election promise to roll-out Canada’s first national school food policy.

While the Motion is addressed to The Prime Minister and our provincial and federal municipal associations, it includes a sincere invitation to the Minister of Families. Children and Social Development (now Jenna Sudds MP, phone 613-992-1119, [email protected] ) to join us at Council and share how that Ministry is supporting those who need it most —school children — and how it is ensuring that all Canadians have the right to access enough safe and nutritious food in a way that is socially acceptable and dignified.

Our Municipal Clerk has now formally communicated that invitation.


Bill Roberts

Councillor – Sophiasburgh PEC