UCP funds school nutrition program after uncertainty
Published Monday, September 9, 2019 9:30PM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 10, 2019 6:46PM MDT
The provincial government will not be cutting funding for a school nutrition program that will feed an estimated 30,000 students throughout the year, the Ministry of Education confirmed Monday evening.
"Since taking office Minister LaGrange has stressed that she appreciates and values this program," a statement from a ministry spokesperson read.
Alberta's School Nutrition Program was initially a $3.5-million pilot by the then-NDP government in the 2016-17 school year.
To date, $29 million has been dedicated to the program, including $15.5 million that was promised in the government's 2018-19 budget.
Students of the schools in the initiative receive a meal each day that follows the Alberta Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth.
"To have these food programs in our school are essential for some families who are unable to provide," said Rebecca Robins, a Grade 1 teacher.
The board chair of Edmonton Public Schools said the board was pleased to hear about the funding confirmation.
"We know how strong the connection between nutrition and a student’s ability to learn is, and are glad our government also understands this connection," Trisha Estabrooks wrote in a statement.
However, the funding announcement came in the second week of the school year.
"I think it highlights the broader uncertainties that exist right now in the fact that we don’t have a provincial budget," Estabrooks told CTV News Edmonton.
The Education Ministry said any concern the nutrition program would be defunded is "yet another example of where the NDP speculated about cuts that simply didn't exist."
The nutrition program is also funded in four Edmonton Catholic Schools at a cost of $513,000 per year. More than 1,050 students in those four schools receive a breakfast, lunch or snack.
The money is provided to the school authorities directly, which create and run their own program.
100.3 The Bear collects food for students
Bell Media's 100.3 The Bear raises money before every school year to help students in need with essentials. There was one big need before classes began: food.
"It's definitely an eye opener to see what’s out there," Ryan Maier, co-host of the Worst Show Ever. "It's not just the inner city schools that are dealing with this stuff. It's pretty much everywhere."
The Bear donated 3,200 boxes of cereal to Westbrook Elementary School.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Timm Bruch