MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO — The government of Canada announced a $1 billion investment over the next five years to establish a National School Food Program. Canadian meat processor Maple Leaf Foods Inc. voiced its support of the investment that will broaden existing school food programs, reaching an additional 400,000 children across the country.

“Maple Leaf Foods and the Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security are thrilled and thankful that the federal government has acted on their commitment to create a National School Food Program,” said Sarah Stern, executive director of the Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security.

Launched in 2016, the Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security is a registered charity committed to working collaboratively to reduce food insecurity in Canada by 50% by 2030. The center advocates for critical public policies and invests in knowledge-building and programs that advance sustainable food security.

Maple Leaf said the center has directly funded over 30 projects across the country and has committed more than $13 million to increase access to good food.

“Food insecurity is at crisis levels in Canada, with one in four children living in a food insecure home,” Stern added. “Food security is fundamental to health and dignity, as well as academic, social and economic potential. Historically, Canada has been the only G7 country without a national school food program. This leadership and action on the part of the federal government addresses this failing and further strengthens our societal net, so that more children in Canada will have the potential to learn and succeed.”

Maple Leaf plans to continue to collaborate with school food experts, the provinces, territories and federal government to establish a healthy meal program in each school.