It’s a question asked every day, thousands of times by students everywhere. What’s for breakfast? What’s for lunch? What’s for snack? And food is critical. It’s essential to students who are growing, learning, playing, and beginning their journey to adulthood. It’s especially important for those students who receive a majority of their calories through school. School is where students, on average, receive 35% of their calories. For food insecure students that increases to 50%. And for youth here in Vancouver it’s incredibly important. Over 2000 students go hungry every day. And many, just under 50%, do not receive the daily recommended amount of fruits or vegetables. Teachers, school districts, cafeteria staff, non-profits, and parents are working together to rethink school food.
This past week the Vancouver School Board, Fresh Roots, and the BC Food Systems Network hosted an event, Rethinking School Food: Cultivating a Healthy School Food System, to hear from Debbie Field of FoodShare Toronto. FoodShare believes that everyone should have access to affordable, high-quality fresh food – Good Healthy Food For All. They have been putting that vision into place for the past 30 years – transforming the City of Toronto and in particular their school food system.
Fresh Roots is working with FoodShare and the BC Food Systems Network, along with organizations across Canada through the Coalition for Healthy School Food, for a universal healthy school food program – where every student in Canada has access to healthy meals at school every day. We learned how FoodShare has been able to rethink school food, change the menu to increase healthy options, and empower youth to do it themselves. We’re gearing up here in BC to work together to ensure that every student has access to delicious, healthy, local food. We hope you’ll join us.
Take a peek at the presentations that
Brent Mansfield – Rethinking School Food – A Whole School Approach.
Debbie Fields – FoodShare Toronto – Rethinking School Food- Cultivating a Healthy School Food System.
Fresh Roots – Good Food For All – Rethinking School Lunch
During the event, we asked attendees what inspires them most from the event. Below you can find a list of what was said.
- Strategic Systems Approach to change…B.C. Fridays
- Things can change quickly with the right people.
- A call to action partnered with a clear, justified plan to make dignified, healthy food universal to all youth.
- School food systems, gardens as a connector and generator for student employment skills.
- Further connector to socio economic sphere of community!
- Creating a broader movement to reach as many kids as possible with nutritious foods.
- Photos of fresh foods and happy faces.
- I am inspired by Debbie’s vision of universal school meal program.
- Shift in viewing food, health and education – it’s everyone’s business!
- What inspired me most from today’s session: The possibility of addressing so many of these important issues(empowerment, access, physical, mental/ecological, health, etc.) in an integrated way.
- The benefits that they youth experience: mental healthy, employment experience, interest n healthy food, etc.
- Food is universal and food can solve many issues by just understanding a system, and eating well.
- A new minister of Food Security – YES! Looking at the current food environment in schools: what is the hidden curriculum?
- The potential for a universal school nutrition program connected to SEL (Social-Emotional Learning)
- The role the Vancouver Food Policy Council will play in advocating for universal school food.
- Every child in the school could be hungry and need good food to eat.
- How working with school food programs can also fix ‘problems’ that affect the youth.
- Giving the knowledge to children where food comes from, teaching how to cook, healthy eating.
- Feeding all children
- Possibility for collective impact with common goals from a variety of levels of government.
- Making it universal and a focus on healthy.
- For ALL KIDS.
- All Kids should eat for free!
- Poverty is solved by Feeding ALL Children!
- Focus on access as prerequisite to hands on engaged learning opportunities.
- That BC needs to change our focus from food literacy to food access.
Thank you for learning with us – we are looking forward to rethinking school food together.