Nutrition program extended
Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 06:00 am
The provincial government announced April 5 it would be extending its existing school nutrition program to schools across Alberta.
“We know students can’t focus in class if they have an empty stomach. Giving students access to a daily nutritious meal not only ensures they have the fuel they need to get through the school day, it also helps develop the skills that ensure lifelong healthy nutrition,” said Premier Rachel Notley.
A $3.5 million pilot project involving 14 school divisions was launched last year and has, to date, delivered daily nutritious meals to more than 5,000 students in 33 schools, according to figures provided to Alberta Education.
“It’s been incredible to witness the unique and innovative approaches that school boards have taken to implement the program and the resulting impact it is having in the classroom,” said Minister of Education David Eggen. “I’m excited for this next phase as we continue to meet the basic needs of our students, while charting the path towards a nutrition program model that is sustainable for schools.”
An additional $10 million is being pumped into the program in the 2017-18 school year to deliver it province-wide.
The 14 school boards involved in the pilot project will each receive $250,000 of that funding, with the remaining 46 school boards in the province each receiving $141,000.
According to Rocky View Schools (RVS) Director of Communications Angela Spanier, RVS was not part of the pilot project but does have a number of existing partnerships with local organizations – including the Airdrie Food Bank – to deliver nutrition programs in schools.
“There are seven programs going on, which follow or support our healthy eating initiative,” she said. “A lot of the funding that comes into these programs is through donations. We will try to enhance their accessibility.
“The government right now has said that they will be sending out a template for us to outline how we plan to enhance or expand our existing program, along with the detailed financial plan.”
According to a press release sent out by the province April 5, school boards receiving funding through the program must demonstrate how it adheres to the Alberta Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth. Education about good nutrition, not just the provision of a meal or snack, must be part of the program as well.
Spanier said the school division had not been given a deadline for completing the template and financial plan but it was her understanding Alberta Education would be following up with each jurisdiction.