New federal School Meal Program will help Sherbrooke, says local food charity director

New federal School Meal Program will help Sherbrooke, says local food charity director
Sherbrooke MP Élisabeth Brière, Compton-Stanstead MP Marie-Claude Bibeau, and La Grande Table Director Vincent Boutin gathered to discuss how the new federal School Meal Program will affect Sherbrooke (Photo : William Crooks)

By William Crooks

Local Journalism Initiative

In the 2024 federal budget announcement, the Canadian government pledged an investment of $1 billion over five years to implement a new school meal program. This initiative is expected to provide nutritious meals to an additional 400,000 children, augmenting the existing school food services and addressing the critical issue of food insecurity among students.

Compton-Stanstead MP Marie-Claude Bibeau, Sherbrooke MP Élisabeth Brière, and La Grande Table Director Vincent Boutin, held an informal, joint press conference May 17 in the La Grande Table dining room to discuss the issue. La Grande Table is a food-assistance charitable organization that has been in operation in Sherbrooke since 1991.

“And it is certain that national aid would allow us to serve all of these young people, because for some people, even one dollar is too expensive to eat properly,” Boutin said to reporters.

“And at least with a national program… for us, it is certain that we see this in a positive light.”

The need for this program has been evident for years, according to the three. Discussions with local education authorities and visits to schools have highlighted the acute demand for better food support systems.

Boutin, a key figure in advocating for the program, has frequently noted the stark realities faced by schools, especially in economically disadvantaged areas like Sherbrooke. Recognized as one of the poorest constituencies in Canada, Sherbrooke stands to benefit significantly from this initiative.

The new funding aims to bridge the gap in nutritional provision within schools, ensuring that more children receive the meals they need to thrive academically and socially. Research consistently shows that proper nutrition is crucial for students’ energy levels, concentration, and overall performance in school. Moreover, it addresses the broader issue of food insecurity, which affects many families, particularly in low-income districts.

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