MONTREAL, Sept. 11, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As families transition into the new school year this September, the Breakfast Club of Canada is reminding Canadians that nearly one million children across the country live in poverty and are at risk of starting the school day on an empty stomach due to a lack of access to nutritious food. This alarming statistic and other related issues will be among the subjects discussed at 19th edition of the Global Child Nutrition Forum which will be held in Montreal from September 17 to 21, 2017.
With support from the City of Montreal, the Breakfast Club of Canada will host, for its first appearance on Canadian soil, the annual Forum organized by the Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF) and the United Nations World Food Programme Centre of Excellence against Hunger (WFP CoE). More than 300 leaders from 67 countries will meet in Montreal over a five-day period in an effort to help governments around the world build national nutritious school meal programs that are locally-sourced and country-operated.
“Thanks to the City of Montreal, the Breakfast Club of Canada received financial support to offer a balanced morning meal to students at 50 new elementary and high schools from nine Montreal districts,” said Daniel Germain, President and Founder of the Breakfast Club of Canada. “We are equally delighted to acknowledge a recent contribution by the Government of Canada. However, we must be clear that in 2017 it is distressing that Canada remains the only G7 country that does not have a national nutrition policy for children. I believe in the genuine goodwill of the government in place and take this opportunity to call on our federal policymakers to ask that they commit to Canadian children by developing a comprehensive national strategy to end child hunger in this country.”
The theme for this year’s Forum, Bridge to Sustainable Development through School Meal Programs: Engaging Local, National, Regional, and Global Communities, will see participants take part in various workshops and conferences designed to:
- Build the capacity of governments to implement national school meal programs;
- Engage businesses to strengthen supply chains and increase political will for school meal programs; and
- Strengthen the field – among non-profits, schools and researchers – to raise awareness and ensure strong support and resourcing for school meal programs.
“The Forum aims to highlight issues related to child nutrition around the world, foster cooperation between nations and encourage countries to develop and improve programs and revenue streams,” remarked Arlene Mitchell, Executive Director, Global Child Nutrition Foundation. “It is also a wonderful opportunity for increased visibility on the world stage, to raise public awareness about nutrition challenges facing children in all countries and to share experience and tools to address those challenges.”
“The City of Montreal is proud to be working in collaboration with the Breakfast Club of Canada, GCNF and the WFP CoE on this important Forum,” said Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montreal. “Over the years, the Forum has become a space for countries to discuss their challenges and share their solutions for school nutrition programs. We could not be happier that they have chosen to bring this important discussion to Montreal.”
Studies have proven the importance of school feeding and food aid programs targeting children. Such programs allow children to better focus on school, resulting in more positive behaviour, facilitate conflict resolution, as well as record a drop in anxiety, depression and trips to the school nurse.
It is estimated that approximately 4,000 schools in Canada currently have a school nutrition program, which represents just over 25% of primary and secondary schools in Canada. These programs include: breakfast clubs before classes, class lunches and healthy snacks. As resources are limited, these programs are unfortunately not systematically offered to all pupils and on all school days.
“Every year, during the Forum, over 40 countries engage in discussions about how school feeding programs combine interventions in education, agriculture, health, gender, social protection, and nutrition to build an integrated, multi-dimensional response to hunger and poverty”, said Daniel Balaban, director of WFP CoE. “Thanks to the commitment of these countries and to their continued efforts, the Global Child Nutrition Forum is now the most relevant school feeding conference in the world”.
About the Breakfast Club of Canada
For 22 years, Breakfast Club of Canada has been nourishing children’s potential by making sure as many of them as possible have access to a healthy morning meal before school, in an environment that allows their self-esteem to grow and flourish. But the Club is much more than a breakfast program: we take a broader approach that promotes the core values of engagement, enrichment and empowerment, and we team up with communities and local partners to develop solutions adapted to their specific needs. Operating from coast to coast, the Breakfast Club of Canada helps feed more than 203,000 students every day in 1,598 schools.
About the Global Child Nutrition Foundation:
The Global Child Nutrition Foundation is a global network of governments, businesses and civil society organizations working together to support school meal programs that help children and communities thrive. GCNF provides training, technical assistance, and sharing opportunities to help governments build national school meal programs that are nutritious, locally-sourced and ultimately independent from international aid. GCNF’s flagship program, the Global Child Nutrition Forum, is a learning exchange and technical assistance conference held annually to support countries in the development and implementation of sustainable school feeding programs. Since 1997, the annual Global Child Nutrition Forum has united leaders from developing countries for five days of intensive training, technical assistance and planning, all directed toward establishing country-operated sustainable school feeding programs. By sharing their insights, experiences, and challenges, an informal worldwide alliance of leaders dedicated to advancing school feeding has evolved. Past Forums have taken place in the U.S., Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Brazil, Cabo Verde, and Armenia.
About the World Food Programme Centre of Excellence against Hunger: The Centre of Excellence against Hunger was launched jointly by the World Food Programme and Brazil in 2011 as a powerhouse of solutions for the defeat of hunger and malnutrition. A South-South bridge to food security, the Centre draws on Brazilian experience to share knowledge and policy innovations among developing countries. Primarily focused on linking school meal systems to local agriculture, it provides technical assistance to national governments to design, improve, expand, and eventually run their own school feeding programmes.