The Manitoba Teachers’ Society welcomed today’s announcement by Families Minister Heather Stefanson about the establishment of a $2.5 million Home Nutrition and Learning pilot project that will provide breakfast to 6,000 school-aged children from 2,500 families.
“The Society recognizes the important link between nutrition and learning and has strongly advocated for a universal meal program for K-12 students,” said MTS president James Bedford. “While this is by no means a universal program, it is certainly a step in the right direction and will have a big impact in the lives of some of Manitoba’s most vulnerable children.”
The pilot program is set to launch this week in Winnipeg, and will roll out in Brandon, Cross Lake, Thicket Portage, Pikwitonei, Ilford/War Lake and Wabowden in early July.
The government is working with existing community partners to administer the program, using their knowledge and connections to help identify and reach school-aged children who are experiencing food insecurity due to the school closures.
Participating families will receive packages of healthy foods along with recipes and learning activities that have been developed by the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba.
The program is expected to wrap up at the end of September.
“Teachers have been spending money out of pocket to provide food and snacks for their students for many years and with the income disruptions caused by COVID-19, we can expect to see an increase in hunger in the classroom,” said Bedford. “I hope that come September, we see an expansion of this program because the benefits of feeding kids far outweigh the short term costs.”
In its submission to the Manitoba Commission on Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education, The Manitoba Teachers’ Society recommended the establishment of a universal meal program for K-12 public school students. The recommendations from the commission have been delayed due to COVID-19.