Better nutrition = better grades

Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

An initiative introduced earlier this month by the federal government will have a positive impact on Albertan children, including many in our region.

Those are the thoughts of Alberta Food Matters chair Wanda Laurin, who says providing proper nutrition to children will help them to function better in school and their personal lives.

“We are staring a health epidemic in the face,” says Laurin, who notes there are many diseases taking root in Canadians that are all associated with the food they consume.

“This National School Food Program will benefit not only food insecure kids, but also children who may not be getting balanced nutrition in the food they eat,” she adds.

“It is proven that a proper diet will improve learning and attendance. The Canadian government announced its program, saying that a study has proven nearly one in four children in Canada do not get enough food. The study proves that this lack of food is causing health problems, including cognitive issues in school.

“This is a massive win across the economic spectrum,” says Laurin. “Many school divisions are already providing some type of nutritional programming, but this will allow them to grow their programs.”

The National School Food Program will provide an investment of $1 billion over the next five years, and it was included in the 2024 Budget. Meaning, according to the government, this will provide meals to over 400,000 more kids every year, beyond those already served by existing school food programs.

Laurin says the Coalition for Healthy School Food has been advocating for this funding to be provided to Canadians, and their efforts have officially come to fruition with this announcement.

Alberta Food Matters is a group that recognizes and focuses on food security and food sovereignty by helping to create asset-based community development research. Laurin says that they were able to hire two people for one year, and their efforts have helped to introduce a greenhouse and berry bushes in Manning, as well as a garden at TA Norris school in Peace River.

Laurin says these groups, along with the introduction of the new funding, will help communities address the issues the population faces with food insecurity. She notes ensuring people have balanced diets, free of processed foods, will help eradicate some of the health-related issues caused by poor nutritional choices.

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