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Industry NewsCPMA applauds federal initiative for $1B national school food program

CPMA applauds federal initiative for $1B national school food program

The Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) has voiced its support for the federal government’s decision to implement a billion-dollar national school food program.

“We know that many families are struggling with the cost of essentials and that Canadians are eating less and less fresh fruits and vegetables – with detrimental impacts for our health and well-being and resulting in an economic burden calculated at almost $8 billion annually,” said CPMA president Ron Lemaire. “Canada is currently the only G7 country without a national school food program. We are very pleased to see the government moving forward with investment in this critical support for families across the country.”

CPMA has been a longtime supporter of this initiative, a statement reads. In a 2022 CPMA member survey, 68 per cent of respondents indicated they were active in supporting school nutrition programs. CPMA’s Half Your Plate campaign and Freggie Children’s Program are initiatives that aim to increase fresh produce consumption in Canada by helping Canadians align with the Canada Food Guide recommendation to fill half their plates with healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables.

“Yesterday’s announcement is a result of many years of efforts by a diverse group of stakeholders,” said Lemaire. “CPMA and our members are keen to work with the government to secure a consistent supply of healthy food for children across Canada and create real opportunities for beneficial partnerships in our food system.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the initiative during an event in Toronto on Monday (April 1), leading up to the federal budget, which is scheduled for April 16.

Freeland said the government plans to have the program operational for the 2024-2025 school year.

Advocates argue that such a program is essential to address the deficiencies of the current patchwork of provincial, local and charitable initiatives, which are strained by limited resources and soaring food prices.

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