Trudeau promotes school nutrition program on visit to Winnipeg school

It’s a common worry for many low-income families, forced to send their kids to school without being able to provide food, but now the Federal government is looking to change that with their new school nutrition plan. Mitchell Ringos reports

It’s a common worry for many low-income families: being forced to send their kids to school without being able to provide food.

The federal government is looking to change that with a new school nutrition plan that promises to provide meals to 400,000 kids across the country. The cost is estimated at $1 billion over five years.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stopped by Winnipeg’s Elwick Community School Friday to promote the program.

“The cost of living, including groceries, have risen significantly because of after-impacts of the pandemic and because of global inflation, so we’re working harder every day to make life more affordable for Canadians,” Trudeau said.

“We all know that children can’t learn on an empty stomach,” added Jenna Sudds, the federal minister of families, children and social development.

RELATED: Canadians getting sick trying to cut food costs: study

Trudeau says he will be working with provinces and territories on the plan, and he pointed to the Manitoba government’s recent budget measure of $30 million for a school food program.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Elwick Community School in Winnipeg, on May 17, 2024. (Mitchell Ringos, CityNews)

The Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba says that funding will go a long way.

“By increasing the access to nutritious food at school, we are positively impacting education outcomes and decreasing the risk of chronic disease,” program grants manager Clara Birnie said.

Birnie adds while it helps ensure students don’t go hungry at school, it will see the biggest impact for newcomer and refugee students, who often leave proper nutrition at the bottom of the list.

“Offering food when their families are struggling to establish homes, jobs, childcare, etc., was not only a physical benefit, but an emotionally nourishing experience of welcome and belonging,” Birnie said.

WATCH: Manitoba takes first steps in universal school nutrition program

The federal Opposition Conservatives have said the Liberal government’s program would be far from universal and only covers a fraction of the roughly five million children in public schools.

The prime minister also highlighted another investment that will see more supports for after-school learning.

“We will invest over $67 million to support mentorship and academic assistant that will help students succeed, including Indigenous and at-risk youth,” he said.

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