OPINION: Great idea, but is it affordable?

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While we applaud the efforts and concept behind the We Are One National Nutritional School Lunch Program, we can’t help but feel it is just not financially feasible.

The concept is beautiful – give every elementary school-aged child a healthy and nutritious lunch every day. Keep our children well fed and they are much more likely to soak up the information

Children who are well fed, with good nutrition are shown to be happier, with fewer issues and a better ability to learn.

The fact Canada is the only G7 country without a national school lunch program is sad. An estimated one in every six children in Canada lives in poverty. There are empty bellies in our schools, despite a host of student nutrition programs.

Furthermore, those programs can lead to stigmatism that those who participate are poor.

With We Are One, the concept is everyone is fed, regardless of social and economic background.

Again, a wonderful concept.

However, spending $16 a day per meal per child seems extravagant.

For the estimated 6,000 elementary school-aged kids in C-K, that translated to $96,000 per day.

Just in Chatham-Kent.

We realize inflation has pummeled food prices during the pandemic, and rising gas prices will only add to this. But we live in Ontario’s garden, Chatham-Kent, where delicious fruit and vegetables grow all around us.

With the continuing expansion of greenhouses in our region, produce is produced basically year round.

Surely there are greenhouses that would be on board supporting the program. We bet there are several who would rather see their product be distributed locally than shipped across the border. They would be good corporate citizens in helping ensure our children’s bellies are full of healthy food each lunch, and they are doing their part to lower the overall carbon footprint by having fewer trucks on long-distance hauls transporting their goods.

As well, reaching out to parents who can afford to pay to partially augment the program could be considered.

But above all, lowering the daily cost across the board is paramount. Do these kids require $16-a-day meals? Is there a healthy compromise that can be made so the concept is just too enticing for a government to ignore?

The more enticing it can be for all levels of government, the more likely it will proceed.

 

 

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