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Why Mazon Canada Advocates for a National School Food Program

 Food insecurity now affects 1 in 4 children in Canada, up from 1 in 5 in 2021. That’s nearly 2 million children who cannot reliably access the foods they need to survive



 

At Mazon Canada, we are driven by our shared values of compassion, justice, and communal responsibility, deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. These values drive us to take action and make a positive difference in the world around us.     

That's why we're excited to share an initiative that is close to our hearts: the establishment of a National School Food Program. Such a program would ensure that every child has access to nutritious meals at school, regardless of their socio-economic background.     


Canada is the only country in the G7 without a national school food program, and we rank 37th out of 41 among the world’s richest countries for providing healthy food for kids. As the 10th largest economy in the world and the fastest growing population in the G7, we can support the wellbeing of our children and youth and achieve long-term economic impacts by implementing a national school food program as quickly as possible.  


Jewish tradition emphasizes the significance of communal dining. The concept of breaking bread together, symbolizing unity and fellowship, is deeply rooted in Jewish culture. By providing nutritious meals in schools, we not only feed hungry children, but also cultivate a sense of community and shared responsibility. Through our letter writing campaign, we are proud to spearhead a network of Jewish community members in advocating for a National School Food Program. Together, we are building a world where shared meals are a core part of children’s educational experience.  

 

With food insecurity at an all-time high for many families across the country, the need for a National School Food Program has never been more urgent. As the 2024 federal budget is being prepared, now is the time for us to come together and advocate for this critical investment in our children's future. Back in 2019, Prime Minister Trudeau introduced a National School Food Program as part of the federal budget – and reaffirmed that commitment in the 2022 budget. To date, it remains unfulfilled. It's now up to us to raise our voices and demand Trudeau fulfill this promise to Canadian children, parents, and voters by committing $200 million annually, for the next five years, to create a lasting National School Food Program.  No child should have to go hungry, and we have the collective power to change that reality.     

Below is a template letter that you can send to your Member of Parliament and Prime Minister Trudeau, urging them to fund this critical program. Your voice matters, and we believe that Jewish community advocacy can make a real difference in the lives of Canadian children and families. We encourage you to personalize the email according to any of your own experiences, values, or understandings.   

On a global scale, this decision would also free Canada from the national embarrassment of being the only G7 country without a school food program. By investing in school food, jobs will be created, food systems will become more resilient, our economies will grow, and our communities will be strengthened. 


It is well understood that school food programs are an excellent investment, creating 2.5 to 7 dollars of wealth for every dollar put in.    

 

Advocating for a National School Food Program is about more than just policy—it's about making a difference in the lives of children who need it most. It's about embodying the values of compassion and justice that are central to our people.  By coming together as a community to advocate for this program, we are showing our commitment to caring for the needs of others and ensuring that every child has the opportunity to thrive. 

 

We often hear from our direct food aid partner programs at schools that there just isn't enough resources to meet growing demand, whether it’s for a morning snack or a nutritious meal for hungry students during lunchtime. That's why advocacy is so crucial—to address the systemic issues that perpetuate food insecurity and ensure that every child has access to healthy food. We’re proud to be a member of the Coalition for Healthy School Food, which is organizing communities across the country to advocate for a National School Food Program.  

 

Our Jewish tradition emphasizes the importance of caring for the needy and ensuring that basic needs are met. In the book of Isaiah, we read: "Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help" (Isaiah 58:7, NLT). This commandment underscores our collective responsibility to alleviate hunger and promote social justice. Implementing a universal healthy school food program is not only a practical necessity but also a moral imperative rooted in Jewish values. By ensuring that all children have access to nutritious meals, we take a step towards fulfilling our obligation to uphold justice, compassion, and communal solidarity.  

 

Specifically, we are echoing the Coalition for Healthy School Food’s 2024 request that asks the federal government to:   

  1. Allocate $1 billion over five years to establish a National School Nutritious Meal Program as a key element of the evolving Food Policy for Canada, with $200 million per year to contribute to provinces, territories and First Nation, Métis and Inuit partners to fund their school food programs.  

  2. Enter into immediate discussions with Indigenous leaders to negotiate agreements for the creation and/or enhancement of permanent independent distinctions-based First Nation, Métis and Inuit school meal programs.   

  3. Create a dedicated school food infrastructure fund to enhance food production and preparation equipment and facilities so they can reliably and efficiently serve healthy food in adequate volumes.  

At Mazon, we are also deeply moved by a diverse range of voices, both Jewish and non-Jewish, including other faith-based and spiritually rooted communities. As part of the Coalition for Healthy School Food, Mazon has been so grateful to engage in dialogue and collaboration with a multitude of voices from different backgrounds and communities, striving towards diverse and inclusive solutions to this national crisis.   

We’re also looking forward to hearing from you on why you feel that our Jewish community should be engaged on this issue. My inbox is always open at community@mazoncanada.ca.  

This is ultimately about our shared future, and the support we can provide so that every child, from coast to coast to coast, can learn and grow to their full potential.   

Thank you for your compassion, your commitment, and your willingness to make a difference. Together, we can build a better future for all.  


Warm regards,  




Robbie Solway  

Community Lead  

Mazon Canada  



  

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