WCPS Board gives support to local efforts for a federal/provincial universal school food program
Wolf Creek is lending its support to a Canada-wide program to bring healthy food to schools.
Following a presentation from the Coalition for Healthy School Food, the Board of Trustees agreed to support the Coalition’s efforts in advocating the federal and provincial governments for a universal, cost-shared healthy school food program. This included letters from the Wolf Creek Board to both levels of government, calling on the federal government to implement such a program for all K-12 students, and to ask the Government of Alberta to make an application to use federal school food funding to create a province-wide school food program.
“Studies have shown that these programs can contribute to reducing risk for cardiovascular and chronic diseases, such as heart disease and Type-2 diabetes,” said Judith McNicol, dietitian student from Alberta Public Health Association. “They have been linked to positive impacts on children’s mental health, including reductions in behaviour and emotional problems, bullying, anxiety and depression.”
McNicol added that it helps create success in learning.
“When children attend school undernourished their energy, concentration, memory and problem solving skills are all affected,” she explained.
Taylor Perez, École Secondaire Lacombe Composite High School (ÉSLCHS) Ecovision student, who presented to the Board as part of the Coalition, said it is the Coalition’s belief that all students should have daily access to healthy food at school.
“A Universal School Food Program would allow for all children to have access in a non-stigmatizing manner,” said Perez, adding, the program would serve nourishing and culturally appropriate foods, with education that goes beyond meals, while providing an opportunity to foster food literacy. Additionally, it could build on existing programs to incorporate local knowledge and use local food.
The Coalition spoke about inequities in school food programs across Canada, as they said only 35% of schools in Canada have one or more government funded school food program.
Wolf Creek has a number of existing food programs in place throughout the division, and the Board sees supporting this initiative as building on that trend.
“We are proud of the leadership being shown by our students and staff to bring this forward, but also in spearheading local initiatives within Wolf Creek. The Board is excited by the efforts of the Coalition and happy to lend our support,” said Luci Henry, WCPS Board Chair.
By endorsing the program, Wolf Creek joins more than 70 other organizations that have already done so, including school boards and districts in British Columbia, as well as municipalities, health, educational and national organizations throughout Canada.
Wolf Creek’s Board has also committed to advocating for the Coalition to its fellow school boards around Alberta.
The Coalition for Healthy School Food presentation to the Board was made by Taylor Perez, ÉSLCHS EcoVision Student, Steven Schultz, ÉSLCHS teacher, Judith McNicol, Dietitian Student from Alberta Public Health Association and Wanda Laurin from Alberta Food Matters.
Schultz explained that ÉSLCHS have drafted a pilot program in the event that such funding was made available from the federal and provincial governments. He said currently the school doesn’t have access to such funding, but manages a project through local donations.