June 15, 2024

Manitoba’s recent commitment to school nutrition programs to the tune of $30 million is getting rave reviews from local school divisions.

“As a teacher and principal, I know when kids haven’t eaten for a day or a couple of days. They are coming in angry, upset and dysregulated,” said Matt Henderson, superintendent for the Winnipeg School Division.

The government’s commitment to a universally accessible nutrition program is set to begin in the fall and each school division across the province will be provided with money which they will be in charge of distributing.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba government pushing for a universal nutrition program across provincial schools'

Manitoba government pushing for a universal nutrition program across provincial schools

“It allows us to shore up our current and existing nutrition programs but also to be able to scale to other neighbourhoods and other schools,” said Henderson.

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Education Minister Nello Altomare says the rollout will include collecting information on the socio-economic status of student families to determine what food resources will be needed at each school.

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“It depends on the social economic need. There will be an expectation schools in higher-need areas receive that programming that they need based on the indicators that we’ll use,” Altomare said.

The Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba is expected to increase by about $1.37 million this school year. The council covers a portion of food costs for over 300 food programs in schools.

The money is expected to allow the organization to help more than 70 schools currently on its waitlist.

Click to play video: 'Back to school nutrition tips'

Back to school nutrition tips

“Already the schools that we support, many of them have challenges to make it through the rest of the year with the funding they do have so we’ll be able to top up the grants for those programs.” said the program’s grant manager, Clara Birnie.

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However, the financial commitment is being met with some early criticism from the Opposition.

In a statement on Tuesday, interim PC leader Wayne Ewasko said, “As a former educator, I understand the importance of school nutrition. However, the NDP’s math is flawed as today’s announced funding means Manitoba students will be fed for less than a dollar a day. That just doesn’t add up.”

But with a current budget of only $1 million per year for his school’s nutrition programs, Henderson is optimistic.

“It’s critical that kids are coming to school knowing they are going to receive a meal or a couple of meals,” he said.

— with files from Global’s Teagan Rasche

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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