As kids head back to school this week, many will be trying to cope with little or nothing to eat throughout the day.
According to Feed Nova Scotia, the number of people accessing food banks across the province has doubled since last year – and most of the clients are families with young children.
Over 100,000 people in Nova Scotia are food insecure, and one of the biggest hardships facing families in this situation is the inability to provide a healthy lunch for their child at school.
The Nova Scotia Liberal Party has repeatedly called on the Houston government to consider a universal school lunch program similar to Prince Edward Island’s, to help provide nutritious free lunches to children in grades primary through 12.
“A universal lunch program in Nova Scotia would be a significant step forward in knocking down barriers that many families face when it comes to affording food,” says Lawrence Shebib, executive director of the North Sydney Food Bank Society. “There’s still much more work that needs to be done to address food insecurity in our province, but there’s no question that every child deserves to have a healthy
lunch at school, regardless of their family’s income.”
A breakfast program is offered in most of Nova Scotia’s public schools. Having a free lunch program alongside that would ensure children have consistent access to nutritious meals throughout the day, to better support their overall wellbeing and academic success.
“The bottom line is that a healthy eater makes for a healthy learner. Children spend a significant part of their day at school throughout the week, and they shouldn’t have to go hungry while in the classroom,” says Education and Early Childhood Development shadow minister Patricia Arab. “A universal school lunch program will help strengthen the existing breakfast programs running, and alleviate some of the
challenges caused by these unprecedented times we’re in.”