School Food Program
School Food programs are effective at reducing the negative impacts of poverty on children. A January 2009 study, A National Nutritious School Meal Program for Canadian Children, noted:
…Canadians and their governments should help parents and educators ensure that children get nutritious food to help them learn, achieve good health, and ultimately be more productive members of society… pg 2
and also quoted research from a Harvard literature review:
…the [US] federal School Breakfast Program is highly effective … and …significantly improves … cognitive or mental abilities…Children getting breakfast at school … do significantly better than their peers … in terms of cooperation, discipline and interpersonal behaviours … pg 3
America, in 2008, was spending $12 Billion at the Federal government level on their School Food Programs. This also benefits farmers and sends powerful ripples throughout the economy. In Canada, the Federal government spends NOTHING on School Food Programs. The referenced Canadian report suggests spending of $1.5 Billion a year would be needed.
In the USA, they spend about $1.24 per student per school day. What would an organic Canadian grown apple a day school food program cost? Retail for an organic apple is $2.00 a pound (max.) so if the farmer got paid $1.00, it could cost just $0.33 for each student per school day (about 3 medium sized apples in a pound). These are rough calculations…
Apple-a-Day would still cost money, but much less to start with. We have the certified organic apples spread across Canada in BC and Ontario and the Maritimes. The organic handlers in the Keremeos/Cawston area of BC already supply the supermarkets right across the country. This kind of program would support increasing organic production from coast to coast to coast.
Research shows that people live longer if they eat an apple a day. Giving our children organic apples grown in Canada is good for personal health. This is also good for the health of the regional economy with an agri-food multiplier of 5.0X vs 1.98X and pollution for the energy sector.
An apple-a-day, organic and grown in Canada is one of the best ways to ensure the health of our children in spite of rising food costs and challenging weather and weak income growth. School is the best place to provide this food support.
Isn’t the health of our children a great investment in Canada’s future?