OPSBA welcomes federal announcement of National School Food Program


OPSBA Media Release Banner

Children who are not hungry are more prepared to learn

Toronto, April 2, 2024 – The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) is extremely pleased to see the federal government’s investment of $1 billion over five years to support a new National School Food Program.

OPSBA has been advocating for this much-needed investment for years, since it was initially mentioned in the 2019 federal budget. We are hopeful that the Ontario government will move quickly and collaboratively to ensure the positive impacts of this program can be felt as early as the start of the next school year.

As part of this new program, if these funds flow through the Ministry of Education, we ask that they be enveloped to ensure they are fully spent on school food programs and not used for other K-12 education budget lines. We are calling on Ontario’s Ministry of Education to play a strong role in the establishment of this program. Analysis from the Coalition for Healthy School Food shows that the Ontario government’s funding of student nutrition is lagging many other Canadian jurisdictions, coming 10th out of 13 provinces/territories in spending per student. On a per-student, per-day basis, the total funding for student nutrition equates to $0.10 in Ontario, compared to $1.13 in Prince Edward Island, $0.95 in Nunavut, $0.90 in Newfoundland, $0.65 in British Columbia, and $0.34 in Quebec. Clearly, Ontario needs to do more.

A 2022 Statistics Canada report shows that 6.9 million people in 10 provinces, including almost 1.8 million children, lived in households struggling to afford the food they need.

“Simply put, children who are not hungry are more prepared to learn and participate. The importance of a universal, stigma-free, responsive, and sustainable school food program cannot be overstated,” said Cathy Abraham, OPSBA President. “Our school boards’ mandate under the Education Act is to support Ontario student achievement and well-being – you cannot have one without the other. Ontario families are facing major affordability issues, and this funding will make an incredible impact.”

OPSBA looks forward to working with the federal and provincial governments, partners, and stakeholders to ensure this funding quickly becomes a reality on the ground and stays around forever.

For more information, please contact:

Shane Gonsalves
Managing Director, Government and Public Affairs

T.J. Goertz
Senior Communications and Policy Officer