Kathleen Ganley Commits To A Universal School Nutrition Program for Alberta Students

“No child should have to learn on an empty stomach”

Alberta NDP Leadership candidate Kathleen Ganley says she would fund and implement a universal school nutrition program within a four-year government term.

“No child should have to learn on an empty stomach,” Ganley said. “My campaign is focused on building an economy that works for people and education is a cornerstone of that plan.

“The kids learning in our schools today could go on to cure a form of cancer or make real progress combating climate change — but not if we deprive them of their right to an education. Part of that is ensuring they’re fed and ready to learn.”

Research conducted by the University of Toronto, using Statistics Canada data, revealed a disturbing reality: almost one-in-four Alberta households suffer from food insecurity. Studies show that a supply of good food significantly improves high school grades and college attendance, while also revealing that food security affects students differently based on their race.

The Manitoba NDP Government announced intentions in January to move to a universal school nutrition program over time. Last year, the B.C. NDP Government invested $214-million over three years to expand school nutrition programs, marking the largest investment of its kind in Canadian history.

Canada is the only G7 country that doesn’t have a national school food program or standards, according to the Breakfast Club of Canada. This week, the federal government announced an investment towards a national school lunch program over the next five years — Ganley said her program would work in lockstep with any federal funds to ensure all students are fed.

“We know this works in other countries,” Ganley said. “School nutrition programs are part of the curriculum, teaching kids manners, nutrition, food safety and more. We also know that other provinces to our west and east are moving aggressively towards universal school nutrition programs.

“This program will feed kids, it will give them access to education and that saves money in the long run. The skills that kids learn today will help us build a diversified economy, cut our healthcare costs and so much more.”