Successful school nutrition program going provincewide
Alberta’s school nutrition program is being expanded to every school board in the 2017/18 school year, thanks to an additional $10 million from Budget 2017.
The school nutrition program was first rolled out in the current school year with $3.5 million in funding to 14 school boards. More than 5,000 students in 33 schools have been receiving a nutritious meal or snack each day, according to figures provided to Alberta Education.
“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. That’s how we are working to make life better for Alberta families.”
“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. 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.”
School boards must demonstrate how their program adheres to the Alberta Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth and are required to include a nutrition education component as part of the program.
The 14 school boards participating in the pilot this school year will each receive $250,000 in grant funding for the 2017/18 school year. The remaining 46 school boards in the province will each receive $141,000 in grant funding to implement the program.
Alberta Education will hold a series of discussions with community partners, researchers and other representatives about the nutrition program’s rollout to date and how it can be strengthened.
“Two Edmonton Catholic schools are part of the nutrition pilot program. Students at both Ben Calf Robe Elementary/Junior High and Our Lady of Peace Elementary have benefitted from the healthy choices this program provides to nourish them. Students have also learned how to carry over those healthy choices into their home lives.”
Examples of innovative approaches being used to implement the pilot program across the province:
- At Vera M. Welsh Elementary School in Lac La Biche, not only do the students benefit from receiving a daily nutritional meal, the Culinary Arts students at J.A. Williams High School prepare and deliver the lunches, earning credits while gaining valuable work experience.
- Medicine Hat School District is working with a biology professor from the local college to augment the science curriculum through a “seed-to-table” program. The board has also established a partnership with a local greenhouse to build garden towers in the school.
- High Prairie School Division has established partnerships with local grocers, allowing schools to purchase produce at a very reasonable cost.