Iqaluit education authority looking at what it takes to feed all its students lunch

The Iqaluit District Education Authority is looking at what it would take to feed all their students over the lunch hour. 

At the authority's annual community consultation Monday night, the authority released results of the feasibility study it did last fall on implementing a lunch program for all the schools under its jurisdiction.

"We are looking for ideas from the community," said Doug Workman, the chairperson of the district education authority. 

The feasibility study has four different options of possible ways the program could work. The first option would be hiring an outside food service to run the program. 

The second option would be to hire locally to make the meals out of the Inuksuk High School kitchen — the only kitchen at all four schools under the authority with the capacity to feed all the students.

I think in Canada, we should never have any children go hungry. - Jason Rochon, Attendee at meeting

Under this option the food would be transported to the different schools, or a location the students would be bussed to for lunch. Because of a shortage of space at schools like Joamie Elementary and Aqsarniit Middle School, these students could be bussed to locations like the Arctic Winter Games Arena for lunch, according to the report. 

The third option would be to stagger lunch times at each school and bus the kids to the high school to eat lunch at an  allotted time. This option would also rely on all the meals to be prepared in the high school's kitchen and require a reorganization of schools' daily schedules.  

David Common/CBC

Lastly, the education authority could look into mobile kitchens in trailers to cook in.

According to the feasibility study there are 1,380 students at all four schools under the authority. To feed this many kids it would cost the authority more than $1 million a year. These costs are for things like equipment, maintenance of equipment, wages for staff and food costs. 

Workman said it's unclear where the money would come from to pay for the program. 

"We will probably need to do a survey as a next step," he said. 

Mother of 4 speaks at meeting

At the lightly attended meeting Monday, a few community members weighed in on what they think about the program.  

"From an environmental perspective in the community, it would tremendously reduce traffic," said Julie Miller. Currently, all students in Iqaluit, except for high school students, are bussed home for the lunch hour. 

Miller — a mother of four with kids attending three different schools — said at a minimum, having some sort of lunch-time supervision would greatly help her out. 

Other community members voiced their support for the second option on the feasibility study where students could be bussed to locations such as the Arctic Winter Games Arena to have lunch. 

Kyle Muzyka/CBC

Jason Rochon, suggested to have high school students receive credits for helping with lunch preparation.

"I think in Canada, we should never have any children go hungry," said Rochon, who attended the meeting. "As an advocate for feeding children, I just think it's really important." 

According to the latest statistics from the Nunavut Food Security Coalition, nearly 70 per cent of Inuit households in Nunavut are food insecure. 

The Iqaluit District Education Authority does not have numbers of how many of their students are suffering from food insecurity.