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Good food policy and a national child care program. What are the links?

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Food Secure Canada's 9th National Assembly
Friendly, M. & Ferns, C.
Publication Date: 
14 Oct 2016

Access the PDF document attached below

PDF icon Food Secure presentation ELCC.pdf1.27 MB


Our starting points

  • “Food is a cultural, social, educational and aesthetic experience, as well as a necessity for good health.” – Peter Moss.
  • Good meals are an essential part of good early learning and care.
  • Good food policy should be part of a good child care policy.


Current policy context

  • Provincial/territorial licensing regulations lay out requirements for food provision in regulated child care programs.


Provincial/territorial context con’t.

  • A few provinces require menus to be posted.
  • Even the provinces that do require centres to provide meals, do not require them to be prepared on site.
  • Generally, PT’s require centres to “follow the Canada Food Guide” when food is provided. 

As a result…

  • There is great variation in the food and meal experiences provided in licensed child care programs.
    • Some provide meals on-site
    • Some require parents to send boxed lunches.
  • Some programs have on-site kitchens and cooks on staff to prepare meals. Others use outside catering.

Despite this context

  • Some programs provide excellent food and meal experiences.
  • Good child care programs view food and meals as part of the pedagogical process not separate from it.
  • Growing food, preparing it, sharing it and enjoying it are integral parts of the care and education of young children.

Beyond box lunches and the Canada Food Guide

  • At their most rigorous, child care licensing standards specify adherence to the Canada Food Guide as the pinnacle of good food.
  • So while good child care programs recognize the importance of growing, cooking and eating fresh, local and culturally appropriate food, this is far from the norm.
  • How do we make good, healthy food the norm in early learning and child care?


Reconciliation and the role of ECEC

  • The Truth and Reconciliation called upon “the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Aboriginal families.”
  • An Assembly of First Nations survey found that 78% of children up to the age of five have no access to licensed child care.


Linking national child care policy and national food policy

  • Good child care programs that already go beyond basic policy requirements can serve as models for school food programs. These programs:
    • integrate food, food systems and curriculum;
    • value the nutritional and social aspects of food and meal times;
    • value the care of children as a key part of their education.
  • Good food needs to be seen as part of the child care system that we're aiming for. Good food policy needs to be incorporated into child care policy.