Canadians Demand Federal Action on Childhood Nutrition, National Food Policy
In the wake of widespread acknowledgement that diabetes and obesity among Canada’s young people should be treated as a national health crisis, and that childhood poverty rates are on the rise, 85% of Canadians support federal-provincial cooperation “to provide universal access to healthy snacks and lunches for all school aged children across Canada,” and 82% endorsed food literacy programming in schools.
These conclusions are among the findings of a representative poll of Canadians conducted by the opinion research firm Strategic Communications, distributed today by FoodShare Toronto at a news conference in which the organization highlighted its innovative solutions including student nutrition and food literacy programming serving over 125,000 students.
FoodShare created the model for student nutrition programs in the city of Toronto, which works hand-in-hand with its Field to Table Schools program, the educational complement that returns food education to schools through curriculum connections from Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12 to cultivate food literacy. The organization has also demonstrated great success with a healthy cafeteria model, called “The Good Food Café”, and which Catherine Porter in the Toronto Star has called “the future of school lunches.”
“It is time for the Federal Government to join the provinces and cities in funding student nutrition programs,” said Meredith Hayes, Manager of FoodShare’s Field to Table Schools and Youth Engagement programs.
“With diabetes and obesity on the rise and childhood poverty a continued problem in Canada, the Federal Government needs to get involved.”
Other findings in the poll include:
- 86% of respondents supported developing a provincial plan to “support farmers who grow food to be delivered to school cafeterias and student nutrition programs”;
- 82% endorsed food literacy programming in schools;
- 77% favoured banning fast food chains from providing food services in schools;
- 71% endorsed the idea of local food purchasing policies for public institutions;
- 70% supported mandatory cafeterias and kitchens in new schools;
- 66% favoured a ban on “all junk food advertising in media aimed at children”;
The poll also found that 93% agreed there are “simple things that could be done to reduce childhood obesity and diabetes” and that 84% were aware that “rising diabetes and obesity” have been identified as a national health crisis by some experts.
“An overwhelming majority of Canadians understand that we are facing a food-related health crisis and that issues like diabetes and obesity are threatening the next generation of Canadians,” said Debbie Field, Executive Director of FoodShare, Canada’s largest community food security organization. “These findings speak for themselves; it is time for Federal Action on Student Nutrition.”
FoodShare Toronto, Canada’s largest community food security organization, now its 26th year, works with communities to improve access to healthy, affordable, sustainably produced food through community-based programs and policy recommendations.