It’s been proven around the world that school feeding programs promote retention, improve food literacy, and contribute to healthier populations. So why do we deprive ourselves of it in Quebec? Are we so “crazy about our children”? When it comes time to feed them…not that much, it seems.

What’s more, when these food programs are applied to promote access to healthy, local and eco-responsible food, benefits for society as a whole are manifested⁠2 : more prosperous social and solidarity economy, introduction of more environmental practices sustainable, stronger and more resilient communities.

This is why, for some time now, a Chantier pour un program de scholaire universelle au Québec has been working on solutions. This project relies on the expertise and complementarity of organizations from several backgrounds: the Association québécoise de la garde scolaire, the Cantine pour tous, the Breakfast Club, the Quebec Collective of the Coalition for Healthy School Food , the Montreal Food System Council, the Depot Community Food Center, Équiterre and the Tablée des Chefs. These recognized organizations have therefore been working for months to develop a concerted proposal for a universal school feeding program that could allow the almost 900,000 students in the public school system to have access to nutritious food in a non-stigmatizing way. .

And we all agree: in a context of inflation, housing crisis and challenges in economic, social and geographical access to nutritious quality food for children, such a program has its place.

It is estimated that 15.7% of children in Quebec live in food insecure households. We are also surprised that Canada is the only G7 country not to have a school feeding program, despite the ratification of the declaration of the World Coalition for School Meals (School Meals Coalition) by promising a healthy meals for all children by 2030.

The research and actions carried out by our Chantier in Quebec⁠3 (which we will make available before the start of the school year) reveal that actors are deploying innovative practices to feed children while linking them to food literacy activities and a set of measures to promote access to local food. Despite all the will and efforts deployed, the coordination of initiatives and an adequate response to the growing needs of young people in our schools remain complex. The communities are mobilized and develop projects, which however rely on scattered sources of funding from different ministries, philanthropy, donations and volunteer involvement. Nevertheless, a future universal school feeding program can build on these existing programs⁠4, the knowledge, skills and local connections of actors engaged and mobilized around school feeding.

This is why we believe that building collective initiatives around schools to feed young people is an important solution for making structural changes in terms of food security, healthy eating, production, distribution and processing of food. as well as ecological transition, while educating the eaters of tomorrow in healthy and sustainable practices.

To do this, we want to establish collaboration with the various governments and contribute to the implementation of a program that meets the needs, aspirations and realities of Quebecers, in all regions. We got there, right?