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Comox Valley school board backs national healthy food initiative

Coalition for Healthy School Food wants federal government to invest in food program
The school board is endorsing a national coalition for healthy food in schools. Screenshot, Comox Valley Schools

School District 71 is looking closer at food security and how schools can play a role.

The district already has programs with community food advocates like LUSH Valley Food Action Society, both to encourage more learning around food security as well as provide meal programs from students.

RELATED STORY: LUSH Valley-Comox Valley School Good Food Boxes fed 200 families in 2020

At the last regular meeting on April 27, the board considered the national Coalition for Healthy School Food. This initiative wants the federal government to invest in a cost-shared Universal Healthy School Food Program to provide all students access to healthy meals at school each day.

“This feels like it’s the next step, to endorse this program,” trustee Michelle Waite said.

She said she also considered some of the other organizations that have endorsed the initiative such as the British Columbia School Trustees Association.

There was some concern about potential costs for the school district though. Trustee Janice Caton said she thinks the idea is good but she could not support a resolution until the district learned more about its responsibilities, and she wanted to refer the matter to senior staff.

“To me, it needs to go through them first,” she said.

One of the ideas being considered between the district and local food security advocates is for a local co-ordinator position.

Board chair Sheila McDonnell said the action at the meeting was only to endorse the national coalition, not commit to any position yet, though Caton said she was concerned there was some “grey area” to consider.

For any other items, McDonnell responded these could be referred to staff, while Waite reiterated that there was no money to be committed.

In the end, the board opted for a limited motion to endorse the Coalition for Healthy School Food, with Caton voting in opposition. Caton then made a motion, which passed, for any other matters for consideration around food initiatives to be referred to senior staff.

School farm proposal

The school board considered another idea concerning food in schools. Newest trustee Cristi May Sacht brought up a potential grant opportunity for districts to establish their first school farm.

“The benefits of a school farm are that students receive a food literacy education from a professional farmer through hands-on learning opportunities,” she said. “The food can then be used to prepare school meals.… It can also be shared or it can sold to parents and/or community members.”

At this point, May Sacht was only making a notice of motion, so at the direction of other board members, it was suggested the item be discussed in detail at the next board meeting, as the trustees have yet to see the actual motion.

(This story has been edited to remove some incorrect information about one of the groups endorsing the national healthy food program.)

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