Make P.E.I. school lunches free, committee urges government

A motion to urge government to make the province's recently-confirmed new pilot lunch programs free for Island children passed unanimously on Tuesday — however, it is not binding on government. 

Liberal education critic Robert Mitchell put forward the motion during a meeting of P.E.I.'s legislative standing committee on education and economic growth, saying access to healthy meals should be a priority for the provincial government. 

"This is an opportunity to end lunch shaming and stigma," he said. "It's time to give every child a free lunch at school." 

Mitchell said making lunches free would improve the social climate for children while at school by "making income differences less visible." 

2 pilot models will be tried

The province recently confirmed it will launch a new pilot program for school lunches in select schools later this month.

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The pilot will run two models using healthy local food whenever possible and be offered at a cost of $5 per student.

The model for the final program is set to begin in the fall of 2020 will be determined based on the outcomes of the models being tested in the new pilot.

"When you look at reports and studies that have been done, they all indicate that nutrition in school leads to much better outcomes as far as learning, as far as behaviours, as far as social interactions," Mitchell said. 

"Who better to invest than our Island school students, children who are the future for the province?" 

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