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Industry NewsCanada launches $1B national school food program with plan to feed 400,000...

Canada launches $1B national school food program with plan to feed 400,000 kids

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The federal government is set to introduce a $1 billion national school food program to reach 400,000 children annually.

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

“The National School Food Program is a game changer,” Trudeau said in a statement Monday. “The Program will take pressure off of families, invest directly in the future of our kids, and make sure they’re able to reach their full potential — feeling healthy and happy. This is about fairness and doing what’s right for our kids to get the best start in life.”

The federal government plans to allocate $1 billion over five years to implement the program, aligning with the Liberals’ campaign pledge in 2021.

Program promised for September

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.

Some industry companies, including Maple Leaf Foods and the Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security, have commended the government for the program, according to CBC.

“Maple Leaf Foods and the Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security are thrilled and thankful that the federal government has acted on their commitment to create a National School Food Program,” says Sarah Stern, executive director of the Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security. 

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pledged to “exert pressure on the government” to fund school lunches nationwide, according to CBC.

Trudeau said on Monday that the government would collaborate with provinces, territories and Indigenous partners to implement the program, including enhancements to existing policies.

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