An Ontario politician is advocating for free school meals after London, England decided it will offer complimentary lunches to primary school students for a full year.
The city’s mayor says the program will launch in September in an effort to save families money and support children as they grow and learn.
“City Hall will be funding free school meals for every primary school pupil in London. No child should go hungry in our city,” Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted on Sunday.
“The Government [has] refused to act, so I’m stepping up,” he continued.
Khan also shared his own experience and said receiving free lunches when he was growing up was a “lifeline” and he wants to extend this to families.
One prominent politician and advocate in Ontario says the province should take a page out of London’s book.
“With the rising cost of living, more families are struggling to get regular healthy meals on their kitchen tables. They are going to bed hungry and then to school without breakfast and lunch. Studies show food insecurity affect brain development, cognitive ability, health outcomes and academic performance,” NDP MPP for Toronto Centre Kristyn Wong-Tam told NOW Toronto.
“Ontario’s financial watchdog has determined that the Ford government is already underspending $1.1 billion in education. Providing meals to qualifying children in schools will dramatically improve their chances of becoming stronger and more productive citizens in the future. That’s a solid return on investment that the provincial government should commit to right now,” they continued.
According to the United Nations, half of the world’s population living in poverty are children. However, Canada’s poverty rate decreased significantly in 2020.
In fact, Statistics Canada also revealed that poverty declined among all ages, especially for children. Additionally, the declines were in part due to the enhanced Canada Child Benefit (CCB) and temporary pandemic relief benefits.
Unicef Canada agrees, stating that Canada’s investments in child benefits have had a “significant impact.”