Manitoba increases funding for nutrition programs

As Manitoba looks to implement a universal school nutrition program, advocates say the federal government needs to step up and implement a program nationally. Edward Djan has more.

More kids across the province will be seeing more food, as the provincial government steps up funding for nutrition programs.

The province announced they are increasing grant funding given to the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba from $2.5 million to nearly $4 million for this school year.

“The funding that is being rolled out immediately is going to help us provide for the waitlist of over 70 schools. Some of them have been waiting for quite some time. We will be able to clear that waitlist,” said Wendy Bloomfield, Board Chair with CNCM.

The province is also pledging what they are calling a historic $30 million to implement a provincial universal nutrition program.

The funding will be divided up into three pools, with $15 million going directly to school divisions, $9 million going towards grants for nutritional programming, and $6 million going to schools in areas with the highest socio-economic need.

“Manitoba unfortunately was historically a very low annual rate. Only a million-and-a-half, and then more recently there was an increase last year which brought it up to two-and-a-half. That has meant waiting lists, that has been only a small share,” said Debbie Field, the national coordinator with the Coalition for Healthy School Food.

While the Manitoba NDP is keeping its election promise of implementing a universal nutrition program, advocates are still waiting on the federal government to hold their word on the issue.

“There was a commitment in 2021 by the federal government to do that and we still haven’t seen a budget that delivers on that promise. Canada is the only G7 country that doesn’t have a national approach to school food. We are one of the only few rich countries that doesn’t have a country-wide program for kids,” said UNICEF Canada Director of Policy and Research Lisa Wolff.

Judith Barry, co-founder and director of government relations at Breakfast Club of Canada added, “It is important regarding healthcare, as a public health intervention where ultimately as a society we would save billions in health-related costs.”

CityNews reached out to Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development but did not hear back in time for broadcast.

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