Ottawa unveils $1B for national school food program

The Liberal government is pledging $1 billion over the next five years for a national school food program, as Canadian families struggle to afford the rising cost of groceries.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland made the announcement in Toronto on Easter Monday, saying it will “mean peace of mind” for parents across the country.

The goal is to feed an additional 400,000 children a year, beyond programs offered by provinces and school boards.

“We’re introducing this new national school food program so that every single child across Canada can have a fair chance at a good, healthy life,” said Freeland. “We want to get started as early as the 2024-2025 school year.”


The Liberals committed to a national school food program in the 2019 budget and again in their 2021 election platform.

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The New Democrats say it’s taken too long to get it out the door.

“It has been years and years and nothing,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, speaking with media an hour before the Liberals made the announcement. “Canada is the only G7 country that doesn’t have a national school food program.”

Advocates against child poverty have long pushed for the federal government to take this step. Their calls have intensified in the face of stubborn inflation and sky-high grocery prices.

Last year, a record 1.9 million Canadians visited food banks in the month of March alone.

The rollout is the latest in a series of pre-budget announcements focused on affordability issues, including relief for renters and a pledge to expand $10-a-day child care.

More to come…

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