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MAY 24, 2023 (3:05 PM)
Ontario Schools Urged to Provide Free Breakfast and Lunch: Advocates and Teacher Unions Take a Stand
In a joint letter addressed to Education Minister Stephen Lecce and Children Minister Michael Parsa, a coalition of organizations, including the Toronto Youth Cabinet, Food Banks Canada, and the four major teachers' unions in Ontario, are highlighting the important role school meal programs can play in alleviating food insecurity.
They emphasize that the existing student nutrition schemes in the province are experiencing increased demand but are still unable to cater to the needs of a vast proportion of pupils.
Consequently, the participating organizations are requesting the government to introduce a province-wide free school breakfast and lunch initiative for all students, along with adequate infrastructure, resources, and funding to ensure seamless implementations of the meal programs.
The urgency of this request is underscored by a recent report from Feed Ontario, an alliance of 1,200 direct food banks, affiliate organizations, and other groups working to address food insecurity.
The study revealed that between April 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022, around 587,000 adults and children visited food banks in the province 4.3 million times collectively. Notably, approximately 30% of the food bank clients were below 18 years of age.
The free meal programs' proponents believe such initiatives would substantially alleviate the burden on food banks and improve the overall nutrition and well-being of students across Ontario.