Centre For Family Equity
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Learners Need Lunch

A universal school food system for bc

An upstream approach to meeting family food access needs. 

A chance to uphold every child and youth’s right to food and to thrive at school. 

We advocate for a publicly funded universal school food system in BC, within the Ministry of Education and Child Care. We believe that every student deserves access to healthy and nutritious food during the school day.  

As a proud member, we support the BC Chapter of the Coalition for Healthy School Food’s proposal for universal school food based on their nine principles.  

With financial and collaborative support from the Coalition, we carried out research to discover the school food experiences of low-income families at 13 schools in the province in June 2022.  

We learned that school food makes an enormous difference in the lives of many low-income families experiencing food access issues. We heard about the importance of non-stigmatizing, steady programs that provide healthy and nutritious food.  

Access our full research report and key findings here.

Universal school food will take out the stigma associated with school food: no more filling out a form and feeling like you are begging for food. You don’t want the stigma of being the low-income student who accesses the program - less than universal is stigmatizing for families and kids.  

-School food focus group parent participant 

On October 24th, 2022, we sent a recommendation letter and our research report to over 7 provincial ministries and the Premier’s Office, urging the funding of a publicly provided, publicly funded school food system for BC. 

Check out our recommendation letter here.  

In the BC Budget 2023 the government responded with $214 in new funding over three years for school food for every school district in the province.

But our work is far from done. We still need to build on this promising foundation to create a full system. We must work to create a healthy school food culture and ensure the voices and needs of low-income families everywhere in BC are included in the school food system design. 

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Money isn’t the only reason parents need the school food program; it is more than that. It’s about convenience for parents. There is so much stigma around food and food access so let’s get rid of this stigma by taking (it) off the plates of parents.

– school food focus group participant