According to a report on the 2016-17 pilot school nutrition program, students in 33 schools across Alberta are receiving a daily nutritious meal or snack.
“This program has been overwhelmingly positive in the communities where it’s already been introduced, and the results are quite impressive. We’ve seen improved student attendance, a decrease in negative behaviour and an increased sense of healthy food choices among students. This program is one of the ways we’re making life better for Alberta students.”
The school nutrition program was introduced as a pilot in the 2016-17 school year with $3.5 million in funding. The initiative has now expanded to every school board in the province for the 2017-18 school year, thanks to an additional $10 million from Budget 2017.
“Two Edmonton public schools are part of the nutrition program again this school year. Students at both Norwood Elementary and Inglewood Elementary are benefiting from the program through access to healthy food choices. The program is having a positive impact on students’ grades, health and overall well-being, and increasing their understanding of healthy eating and nutrition.”
A summary of the 2016-17 pilot is now available online. It highlights some of the promising practices, innovative approaches and collaborative partnerships that have emerged as a result of the program.
"We are excited to continue to work with Edmonton Public Schools to support school nutrition programs. We've seen first-hand how a nutritious lunch can lead to lasting benefits for students. Students are better equipped to participate in their school day and develop the skills they need for lifelong nutrition habits.”
The 14 school boards that participated in the pilot are each receiving $250,000 in grant funding for the 2017-18 school year. The remaining 48 school boards are each receiving $141,000 in grant funding to implement the program in 2017-18. 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.
Alberta Education is continuing discussions with community partners, researchers and other representatives about the school nutrition program and how it can be strengthened as it expands.