Characteristics of Canadian school food programs funded by provinces and territories




school food programs, National School Food Program, Mandates, Funding, Implementation, Monitoring, Food Security, Child Health, Canada


Given the complexity of school food programs (SFPs) in Canada and recent political developments, this research provides a systematic examination of provincially and territorially-funded SFPs during the 2018/19 school year.  Relevant literature and the RE-AIM Framework, a planning and evaluation tool developed by Glasgow, Boles & Vogt (1999), informed the development of an electronic survey sent to leads in each province and territory to assess SFP Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance.  Results from 24 surveys (16 from provincial/territorial ministries/ departments, supplemented by surveys from 8 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), indicate considerable variability across Canada.  Collectively, provinces and territories contributed over $93 million to support a minimum of 6,159 programs in 5,186 JK-12 schools, funding free breakfasts, snacks, and/or lunches for a minimum of 1,018,323 or 20% of students (based on limited data in some jurisdictions).  The majority of provinces and territories partner with one or more NGOs and rely heavily on NGO staff and volunteers. Program demand often exceeds supply and monitoring is inconsistent.  This research, which provide an important but incomplete picture of SFPs in Canada, indicate the value of future discussions about SFP administration, especially about program mandates, student reach and universality, sustainability and resources, and monitoring based on nationally-harmonized metrics.  The results offer opportunities to explore promising organizational practices, enhanced collaboration, and sharing of expertise, all of which would assist with developing the National School Food Program proposed in the 2019 federal budget.




How to Cite

Ruetz, A. T., & McKenna, M. L. (2021). Characteristics of Canadian school food programs funded by provinces and territories. Canadian Food Studies / La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur l’alimentation, 8(3).