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LETTERS: Free school lunches are an investment

Contact The Guardian to submit a letter to the Editor.
Contact The Guardian to submit a letter to the Editor. - SaltWire Network

Regarding the issue of school lunches and their proposed reforms in Island schools, it is shameful that the King government is opting to include for-profit corporations in their planning when instead this reform should be seen as a tremendous opportunity to implement systemic change that would see the adoption of a community-based model offering healthy, local food options to students free at the point of access.

I have heard first-hand from my students that not only are their school lunches unaffordable, they are unhealthy as well.

Minister Trivers’ current proposal is a $5 lunch, but I caution the minister not to conflate cost with value – for what good is this lunch when there is no value,
neither nutritional nor monetary – being offered?

Again, this is an opportunity to enact real and lasting change. We, as parents, schools, and communities, need the power and autonomy to make our own decisions – not to be locked into constrictive, for-profit corporate contracts that take this autonomy away from those who are most acutely aware of our students’ needs. 

We already have committed, caring, and skilled staff on site who are more than capable of preparing the kind of quality food that we all want our children to have – staff who go above and beyond, working extra hours without compensation, or paying out of their own pocket to ensure that no child goes hungry.

We would scoff at the notion of charging students to ride the bus, or billing them for their lessons, yet somehow we are more than willing to take their money in the lunch line.  

This is not merely an issue of economics; it is an issue of equity. 

Free school lunches, delivered through a community based model, provide the opportunity for every Island student to succeed, and as such this program should be viewed not as an expense, but as an investment.

Nathan Paton,

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