Niagara Nutrition Programs Support Letter
Hon. Michael Parsa
Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services
438 University Avenue, 7th floor
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2K8
April 19, 2023
Dear Minister Parsa,
We are writing to bring your attention to a matter of great concern - the current state of student nutrition programs in Ontario. The program is an essential part of ensuring that students across the province have access to nutritious meals while at school. In Niagara in particular, this vitally important program is rapidly running out of money and requires immediate action to ensure kids can keep accessing this service.
The Niagara nutrition program has a shortfall of over $400,000, which has resulted in the closure of 16 school nutrition programs and affected 49 programs across the Niagara Region. The Niagara Nutrition Program operates 201 programs that offer breakfast, snack, morning meal, and lunch across 3 school boards. With these closures, there are hundreds of kids unable to access these services right now.
It appears that The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services has not meaningfully increased base funding for the program in an Ontario budget since 2014, despite historic inflation. As a result, many schools are struggling to provide adequate nutrition to their students this year, forcing many to fall below the Canada Food Guide, which is a standard for the service guidelines set out by your own Ministry. Investing in school nutrition programs is essential for our students’ well-being, and it is your responsibility to ensure that these programs are kept running, so all children have the chance to access nutritious meals.
Ontario is the only province in Canada that has not made meaningful base funding increases for our school nutrition programs within the last 24 months. Other provinces in Canada have recognized the importance of school nutrition programs and have increased funding accordingly. It is imperative that Ontario follow suit and invest in this critical program to ensure all students have access to nutritious meals.
We are calling for an immediate emergency increase in funding for school nutrition programs from the Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services. We are also calling for you to provide us with a comprehensive, long-term solution to ensure these programs are sustainable for years to come.
Investing in this program is an investment in our children's health and well-being. Ensuring they are adequately resourced is crucial to building a healthier and more prosperous future for our province.
We look forward to hearing your response and working with you towards a solution.
MPP Jennie Stevens (St. Catharines)
MPP Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls)
MPP Chandra Pasma (Ottawa West – Nepean), NDP critic for Education
MPP Monique Taylor (Hamilton Mountain), NDP critic for Children, Community and Social Services