By Kris Scheuer
Almost 100,000 students will be getting free meals thanks to the city.
City hall already kicks in $2.79 million annually to feed over 90,000 students in 365 schools as part of a student nutrition program, said Toronto Public Health’s Jann Houston.
As part of the recently approved $8.7 billion operating budget, it approved an additional $400,000 to fund an additional 44 programs to help another 8,791 youth and children, Houston said.
From Budget Chief Shelley Carroll’s perspective the service is needed even more during current economic climes.
“It really goes along with dealing with the rising welfare case load,” the Don Valley East councillor said. “There are families (on welfare) and this is one meal they can’t afford.
“This is a very targeted approach to hunger.”
And the move was lauded by the Toronto Foundation for Student Success’ executive director Catherine Parsonage.
“We are delighted the city has increased funding for the student nutrition,” she said.
The foundation, a charity arm of the Toronto District School Board, runs the nutrition programs.
It costs about $1.29 per student per school meal, said Parsonage.
The city is now chipping in 12 percent of the cost for almost 100,000 students. Recently the province enhanced its funding through a poverty reduction strategy with funds from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and now funds 15 percent of the programs.
The remaining money is fundraised, which helps to fill empty stomachs.
“A hungry child can’t learn,” Parsonage said.
(Posted on http://www.mytowncrier.ca Monday, April 27, 2009)