Education, Early Learning, and Culture:
The concept of a “Provincial School Food Strategy” would need to be positioned as part of a larger provincial food strategy or initiative. Although it is recognized that schools are a key setting to influence the healthy eating habits of both students and staff (through formal education, school nutrition policies, and health promoting environments) this work would need to be imbedded within a larger provincial strategy. All stakeholders within the education system, as well as other departments, business sectors and community partners, would need to be engaged in any future discussions. The School Food Guiding Principles, recently adopted by the PEIHSF, would be an important consideration to include in this work.
As you know, the PEI Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is currently leading the development of a new Community Food Security and Food Education Program. This new program is the result of community and grass-root organizations who have identified that local food systems should be a priority. This program will include support for three local food pilot projects in schools which will aim to increase the amount of local food available on lunch menus. Other small grants will be administered to support projects which increase local food education in schools; knowledge of where food comes from; community food security partnerships; and sustainable models. Applications for funding will be reviewed and adjudicated by a committee of government and community representatives who will make recommendations to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. The results of these projects, in which the Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture, Public School Branch, Department of Health and Wellness and PEIHSF representatives are key partners, will help us collectively understand local food systems and how to increase school's access.
The Department of Health and Wellness remains a key partner in supporting the healthy eating environment in schools. Two new Healthy Eating Officers have been visiting schools to explore school specific needs regarding breakfast/snack program implementation, school nutrition policy adherence, and other areas of interest. Their future work will include a possible revision of the School Nutrition Policy, which was first adopted in 2005 by elementary/consolidated schools, then expanded to include intermediate and senior high schools in 2011. The revision process would engage all school stakeholders (i.e., students, teachers, parents, government and community) in the discussion. During the revision process, key elements, such as appropriate time for lunch and eating lunch after outside play, would be important components to consider carrying forward.