Characteristics of Canadian school food programs funded by provinces and territories
Keywords:school food programs, National School Food Program, Mandates, Funding, Implementation, Monitoring, Food Security, Child Health, Canada
Given the complex administration of school food programs (SFPs) in Canada and recent federal interest, this research systematically examined provincial and territorial funded SFPs during the 2018/19 school year.Relevant literature and the RE-AIM Framework, a planning and evaluation tool developed by Glasgow et al. (1999), informed the development of an electronic survey sent to program leads in provinces and territories to assess SFP Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance. Results from 17 programs indicate considerable administrative and program variability across Canada. Collectively, provinces and territories contributed over $93 million which partially funded a minimum of 35% of JK-12 schools to providefree breakfasts, snacks, and/or lunches to a minimum of 1,018,323 or 21% of students in Canada (based on limited data in some jurisdictions). The majority of provinces and territories partner with one or more non-governmental organization (NGO) and rely heavily on NGO staff and volunteers. Program demand often exceeds supply, and program monitoring is inconsistent. This research–which provides much-needed, updated information on SFPs–highlights the need to explore the complexity of the topic further and helps inform discussions about SFP administration and characteristics, specifically program mandates, student reach and universality, program sustainability and resources, and monitoring. Opportunities exist for (1) a closer examination of varied and promising organizational practices, (2) enhanced collaboration and knowledge sharing, and (3) harmonization of key metrics, all of which would assist with developing the National School Food Program proposed in the 2019 federal budget.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Amberley T. Ruetz, Mary L. McKenna
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