Human Resources, Labour and Employment
January 18, 2008

Province Supports School Lunch Program

Each school day, thanks to the efforts of the School Lunch Association (SLA), 3,000 children attending 11 elementary schools on the Northeast Avalon continue to have access to a hot nutritious lunch program. The Provincial Government is pleased to be a significant partner in the program. In Budget 2007, $100,000 is provided to ensure that 200,000 hot meals continue to be served throughout the year.

"I commend the School Lunch Association for the continued commitment shown each year in meeting the nutritional needs of young children," said the Honourable Shawn Skinner, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment. "I applaud the straight forward approach. The program makes certain that children, regardless of family means, can enjoy equal access to a daily hot lunch at their school."

Children are active participants in the delivery of the program. The program encourages responsibility and safe food handling while increasing the child’s understanding of the importance of healthy eating and nutrition. It also introduces children to the importance of volunteering within their school.

The school lunch program provides a hot nutritious lunch for just $3 per day. A monthly menu is sent home from the school to ensure that parents are fully involved in the selection of meal choices for their children. In keeping with the mission of the program, every child, regardless of individual family circumstances, has access to a healthy meal. The amount a family pays for a child’s meal is kept strictly confidential. It is based on what parents decide they can afford to pay.

"The Provincial Government’s $100,000 annual contribution provides a solid foundation of support to enable our association to raise an additional $250,000 in contributions within the community," said Gerry Colbert, Executive Director, School Lunch Association. "We believe that a nutritious lunch today leads to a promising tomorrow. This partnership is crucially important in meeting our mandate to serve the needs of children and families across the region."

The school lunch program has operated since 1989 and is recognized as the largest program of its type in Atlantic Canada. The program was inspired by recognition within the community that many children from low income families were not attending school because parents could not afford to provide for their lunch. As a result, the first school lunch program was launched that year at Bishop Feild Elementary. Today, the SLA employs 17 people and operates a central kitchen and three satellites to meet the needs of an average of 1,500 children each school day. Over the past 19 years, well over one million meals have been provided to children.

"Government, through its Poverty Reduction Strategy, is strongly committed to removing barriers for low income families and helping children reach their full potential,’ said Minister Skinner. "I recognize that access to a nutritious meal has a positive impact on a child’s grades, their school attendance and overall self-esteem and confidence."

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Photo #1: The Honourable Shawn Skinner, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment, and the children of Holy Cross Elementary enjoy a healthy lunch together.

Media contacts:

Ed Moriarity
Director of Communications
Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment
709-729-4062, 728-9623
edmoriarity@gov.nl.ca
Gerry Colbert
Executive Director
School Lunch Program
709-754-5323
gcolbert@schoollunch.ca

2008 01 18                                                      9:55 a.m.

 


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