Letter to Premier Dennis King regarding a comprehensive universal school food program, September 17, 2019

September 17, 2019

 

Hon. Dennis King

Premier of Prince Edward Island

Shaw Building

95-105 Rochford Street

Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8

 

Dear Premier King,

The PEI Home and School Federation is the umbrella organization of local “home and school” and “parent council” organizations in 55 schools across Prince Edward Island. We bring together parents, guardians, teachers, administrators and staff to promote the total well-being of children and the highest standards of education for each child in the province. 

 

As President of this organization, it is my hope your government will commit to funding a comprehensive, universal school food program for Prince Edward Island. Such a program would be a foundational step towards better social, educational, and health outcomes for Island children. If designed correctly, it would help families and local economies as well.  Such a program would support Island farmers, fishers, and our many small businesses. When local food is served, the local multiplier of the increased local food purchases will impact regional food production, household and business earnings, long-term gross domestic product, and part-time jobs created or sustained. We know spending money locally has a multiplier effect of seven. Imagine a school food program where eggs, vegetables, and meat are all purchased in our local communities to feed Island children!

 

School food programs support student health and wellness. According to the Coalition for Healthy School Food, such programs have been linked with positive impacts on children’s mental health, including reductions in behavioural and emotional problems, bullying, aggression, anxiety, and depression. Children who eat a morning meal are sick less often, have fewer problems associated with hunger, such as dizziness, lethargy, headaches, stomach aches and earaches, and do significantly better than their peers in terms of cooperation, discipline, and interpersonal relations. Studies have shown that school food programs can contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular events and chronic disease such as stroke, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer by increasing the intake of vegetables, whole grains, and macro- and micro-nutrients (Coalition for Healthy School Food, 2018).

 

It is a very important time for PEI to join other provinces that fund school programs. You may have heard that the new provincial government in Alberta committed to continuing school food

 

program spending. Most provinces and territories are now contributing to school food. And the
federal government for the first time in its March 2019 Budget committed to working with the provinces and territories on implementing the first National School Food Program.

We believe it is now time for the PEI provincial government to join these efforts for the benefits of our children. No one can do it alone, but we believe that the federal, provincial and territorial governments can work with parents, local governments and community organizations to make sure that all of our children have healthy school meals.

 

The PEI Home and School Federation requests a meeting with you to discuss how such a transformative and progressive program would leave a legacy that will benefit all Islanders. You will find attached to this letter a copy of the Federation’s Policy on School Food, passed in 2015, as well as School Food Guiding Principles Resolution, passed by our membership at our April 2017 AGM. If you are open to meeting with me to discuss how this program could benefit Prince Edward Island, I can be reached at the Federation office at (902) 620-3186 or by emailing our Executive Director, Shirley Smedley Jay at peihsf@edu.pe.ca. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Respectfully,

 

Cory Thomas

President

 

cc. Hon. Brad Trivers, Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning

cc. Hon. Jamie Fox, Minister of Fisheries and Communities

cc. Hon. Bloyce Thompson, Minister of Agriculture and Land

cc. Hon. Ernie Hudson, Minister of Social Development and Housing

cc. Hon. Darlene Compton, Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance

cc. Hon. James Aylward, Minister of Health and Wellness

cc. Hon Matthew MacKay, Minister of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture

 

 

 

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