The Ontario government says it is investing an additional $5 million this year in the Student Nutrition Program and the First Nations Student Nutrition Program which provides more than 600,000 school-aged children and youth with healthy meals and snacks throughout the school year to ensure they are well-nourished and ready to learn.
As part of this investment, the YMCA of Three Rivers will receive $425,000 to assist in providing nutritious meals and snacks to children and youth at schools in Cambridge, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, and Stratford-Perth.
“Access to nutritious food is key to academic success and contributes to bright futures for our youngest citizens,” Cambridge MPP Brian Riddell said in a news release.
“Our government’s investment in this program, along with the commitment of partner agencies, donors and volunteers, is helping to ensure our leaders of tomorrow are given the supports they need to succeed.”
The investment brings the total provincial funding for this year to $38 million and will help ensure the program can continue to deliver almost 90 million nutritious meals and snacks to students, according to the release.
“We are grateful for the generosity of our partners, local community members and volunteers who contribute their time and money to help the next generation succeed," said Michael Parsa, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. "I commend their work and encourage Ontarians to get involved to support the success of Ontario students.”
To build on the government’s investment in the two student nutrition programs, the province is partnering with the Arrell Family Foundation, the Breakfast Club of Canada, the Schad Foundation, the Grocery Foundation and Student Nutrition Ontario to launch the Healthy Students Brighter Ontario campaign, the first province-wide fundraising partnership of its kind.
To kick off the campaign, the partner organizations have raised $3 million from The Arrell Family Foundation, The Schad Foundation, Peter Gilgan Foundation, Maple Leaf Foods and the Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security, The Hon. Margaret McCain, and The Sprott Foundation.
The partner organizations will continue to work with local groups and businesses to encourage community involvement and fundraise to reach a combined goal of $10 million, which includes the government’s investment, according to the release.
The Student Nutrition Program is delivered in partnership with local agencies, school boards, and community partner organizations, and the First Nations Student Nutrition Program is delivered through a First Nations-led process.
Both programs provide breakfast, snacks or lunch programs to school-aged children and play a vital role in supporting students’ nutritional needs and promoting positive academic outcomes.