Jun 29, 2023

School’s out for the summer: Tackling child hunger at home

As the school year comes to a close, many parents will be considering how to manage feeding their families in the absence of school nutrition programs.

Every day, over 211,000 Toronto students participate in student nutrition programs through their schools and other community sites. These programs rely primarily on funding from the City of Toronto and the province of Ontario. Yet the province has not increased its funding for nearly a decade. Meanwhile, school food programs are reporting steep rises in the number of students accessing the programs due to growing food insecurity.

On May 29, Talia Bronstein, VP of Research and Advocacy at Daily Bread Food Bank, deputed at Toronto’s Board of Health meeting where they were considering requesting increased provincial and federal funding for student nutrition programs.

While this is an important recommendation, it does not address the root cause of food insecurity, which is poverty.

A proven way to combat food insecurity is with government income supports like the Canada Child Benefit (CCB). Evidence from PROOF, the leading Canadian food insecurity research institute, shows that the CCB reduced the severity of food insecurity among children in Canada.

Bearing this in mind, in partnership with Suman Roy, Board of Health member and CEO of Feed Scarborough, Daily Bread was successful in passing a motion for the City of Toronto to advocate for an increase to the CCB for the lowest income families to prevent food insecurity.

This change has never been more necessary. In Toronto, 28% of food bank clients are children or youth. Food insecurity compromises the health of children and stifles their ability to succeed in school.

Student nutrition programs address children’s immediate need for food, but they do not address the underlying reasons why students come to school hungry in the first place. To truly prevent child hunger, it is necessary to bolster the incomes of Canadian families through the Canada Child Benefit.

For more ways to get involved in Daily Bread’s advocacy this summer, click here.

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