MB government investing $30-million to expand school nutrition programs

MB government investing $30-million to expand school nutrition programs

The Manitoba government is making a record investment to ensure all children in the province have access to healthy food in schools when they need it, Premier Wab Kinew and Education and Early Childhood Learning Minister Nello Altomare announced on Tuesday (Jan 30).

“When we feed hungry kids at school, we set them on the right path towards success in both their education and their future,” said Kinew. “Our government is a leader in Canada in implementing universally accessible school nutrition programming. Children experiencing food insecurity should not have a disadvantage in their learning outcomes because they are hungry.”

As a first step toward universally accessible school nutrition programming, the province is increasing grant funding to the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba (CNCM) from $2.5 million to a total of $3.87 million for the 2023-24 school year. Currently, the CNCM funding covers a portion of food costs for over 300 in-school breakfast, lunch and snack programs that provide healthy food to students across Manitoba. This new $1.37 million in funding will enable the organization to immediately offer expanded nutrition programming and hire an additional dietitian to support schools.

“We have seen first-hand that when students have access to healthy fresh food every day, it boosts student learning and success, a fact that is clear to educators in a classroom setting,” said Altomare. “This funding allows children to focus on learning so they can excel in school.”

For the 2024-25 school year, the Manitoba government will invest a record $30 million into three complimentary streams of school meal programs to ensure all children have barrier-free access to food including:

-$15 million going directly to school divisions for local meal programs based on enrolment and socio-economic factors;
-$6 million for public schools in communities with the highest socio-economic need; and
-$9 million in grants for nutrition programming available on an application-basis that includes expanding support for the CNCM, family outreach initiatives and support for eligible after-school, summer and school break programs.

“Recognizing the importance of nutrition as a basic need for academic success – having a universal program at each school community means that they don’t have to fundraise to get this basic need met,” said Irene Nordheim, school board trustee, Louis Riel School Division. “This is going to take time-consuming work and lots of stress off the backs of teachers and administrators.”

Funding for the universal child nutrition program is one of the new and exciting initiatives in the Manitoba government’s overall school funding for 2024-25, noted the premier.