For a universal healthy school food program in Quebec

All children have the right to healthy and sufficient food to learn well in school. In other G7 countries such as the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, a universal school feeding program is already part of the solution to ensure this right. To date, Canada has not followed this path, nor has Quebec.

Disturbing statistic, in Quebec, nearly one in six children (15.7%) lives in a family in a situation of food insecurity and the current increase in food prices is not helping the situation.

Access to healthy meals is nevertheless recognized as a determining factor for the success of young people. Different reasons, socioeconomic or otherwise, can cause a child to skip a meal or not eat properly. As a society, we must do everything to remedy this.

This is why we advocate the establishment of a universal school feeding program for all students, without exception.

A matter of fairness

Such a measure allows young people to have access to healthy meals at school, where they consume up to 2⁄3 of their daily energy intake. The principle of universality is a matter of fairness. It ensures that no student is harmed in their right to education and healthy food, and avoids discrimination and stigma.

At the federal level, the government is working to develop its national school food policy, following an election commitment to invest $1 billion over five years.

Quebec is already taking action: the government’s health prevention policy provides for measures to promote healthy eating and food education among young people, and the Ministry of Education has just increased funding for organizations and schools.

We need to do more

These actions bear witness to the recognition of the importance of the issue by the public authorities. But we have to go one step further. In Quebec, the federal government’s commitment is helping to create a tremendous opportunity to act as a leader by defining our own model, a real social project that can serve as an inspiration for the rest of Canada, as was the case for the CPE.

Currently, a limited number of children benefit from school feeding initiatives which are already demonstrating their full relevance (AgrSchools, Five Spice Workshops, Breakfast Club, Farm to School, Rooted Schools, Ecollation, La Cantine pour all, La Tablée des chefs, For Quebec foods in our schools, etc.). On these bases, it is already possible to build the universal program that we dream of for our children.

· A program that gives pride of place to healthy, local and eco-responsible foods, in line with the National Strategy for Purchasing Quebec Foods and the Quebec Sustainable Agriculture Plan.

· A program promoting the economic development of the regions, agriculture and respect for the environment.

· A program contributing to enriching the social fabric of communities and building a sustainable and resilient food system.

· A program integrating a food and culinary education component, to lay the necessary foundations for the adoption of healthy lifestyles.

This is a beneficial project for the whole of society, which we can now embrace collectively. The election campaign offers an opportunity to put the helm in this direction. We therefore ask all parties and candidates to commit to working towards the deployment of a universal healthy school food program in Quebec.

Like education, access to healthy and sustainable food must be considered a public good and an inalienable right. It is high time to distinguish ourselves in Quebec by giving our children what many countries have already given to theirs.

*Quebec Collective of the Coalition for Healthy School Food

*List of the 60 signatories:

AgrEcoles, Julia Grenier, Executive Director

Ana Bautista and Katarina Radovanovic, co-founders of Neo College

Quebec Public Health Association, Thomas Bastien, Executive Director

Quebec School Daycare Association, Diane Miron, Executive Director

Bernard-Simon Leclerc, professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Montreal

Job Access Buffet, Darllie Pierre-Louis, General Manager

Carrefour solidaire community food center, Beccah Frasier, co-director general

Centraide of Greater Montreal, Claude Pinard, President and CEO

Marigot Self-Help Center, André Gariépy, General Manager

Social Economy Working Group, Béatrice Alain, General Manager

Breakfast Club, Marie-Claude Bienvenue, VP, Government Affairs, Quebec, and Municipal Affairs

Montreal Coalition of Neighborhood Tables, Yves Bellavance, Coordinator

Quebec Coalition on Weight Issues (Weight Coalition), Corinne Voyer, Director

Collective La DAL Collective, Dimitri Espérance, co-founder and managing director

Montreal Food System Council, Anne-Marie Aubert, Coordinator

Coop Chambord, Eric Audy, General Manager

Cooperative for Ecological Proximity Agriculture (CAPÉ)

ÉquiLibre, Roxanne Léonard, Executive Director

Equiterre, Colleen Thorpe, Executive Director

Autonomous Federation of Education, Mélanie Hubert, president and Patrick Bydal, vice-president for political life

Federation of Parents’ Committees of Quebec, Kevin Roy, President

Heart & Stroke Foundation

Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation

Forks of Hope, Brunilda Reyes, Founder and Director

J’M Love Nutrition, Mélissa Larivière, Dt.P – nutritionist

Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy (Concordia University), Marguerite Mendell, Director

La Cantine pour tous, Thibaud Liné, General Manager

La Corbeille Bordeaux-Cartierville, Donald Boisvert, General Manager

Collective Kitchen Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Benoist de Peyrelongue, General Manager

La Grande table, Ginette Valcourt, General Manager

La Maisonnette des parents, Dolly Kendarji, general manager

The Ste-Marguerite Meeting, Lyne Charuest, General Manager

La Tablée des Chefs, Jean-François Archambault, Managing Director and Founder

The René-Goupil Community Education Center (CECRG), Nathalie Prieur, Executive Director

Le Chic Resto Pop, Laurianne Labonté, program director

The Quebec Collective of the Coalition for Healthy School Food, Danie Martin, coordinator

The Depot, Tasha Lackman, General Manager

Le Pantry For All, Ghislaine Théorêt, General Manager

The PART Group, Martine Thomas, Managing Director

Le Pignon Bleu, Roseline Roussel, General Manager

The Sustainable Food Network, Kristina Craig, Board Secretary

Sesame

BIS Catering, Danny Belley, General Manager

Five Spice Workshops, Mélanie Veillette, General Manager

Miss Mav, the fairy of little gourmands!, Aurore Robert-Mavounia, General Manager

MultiCaf, Jean-Sébastien Patrice, Managing Director

Nancy Neamtan, former CEO of the Chantier de l’économie sociale

Nutrimini, Mélanie Magnan, pediatric nutritionist

Pediatric nutritionists, Cosette Gergès, nutritionist-dietitian and co-founder

Share the Hope, Julie Poirier, Director of Food Security Programs

Small Hands, Nahid Aboumansour, General Manager

Root Pop – Root Pop, Claudia Perez-Lévesque, President

Regrouping of Autonomous Parents’ Committees of Quebec

Resto Plateau, Audrey Mougenot, General Manager

Salmata Ouedraogo, Full Professor in the Department of Economics and Administrative Sciences at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi

Santropol Roulant, Pierre Liné, Managing Director

South West Island Neighborhood Council, Alena Ziuleva, Director

Always Together, Melissa Bellerose, Executive Director

Union of Agricultural Producers (UPA), Martin Caron, General President

Vincent van Schendel, former CEO of TIESS (Innovative Territories in Social and Solidarity Economy)

Yvan Gauthier, CEO of the Foundation of Greater Montreal from 2013 to 2020

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