News / Ottawa

Canadian students bite into healthy eating campaign

The Great Big Crunch is part of a fresh push to get a national nutritional food program in schools.

Max Molnar and Sarah Norman, grade five students at Meadowlands Public School, bite into apples for the Great Big Crunch on Thursday. The campaign promotes healthy eating in schools.

lucy scholey/metro

Max Molnar and Sarah Norman, grade five students at Meadowlands Public School, bite into apples for the Great Big Crunch on Thursday. The campaign promotes healthy eating in schools.

That big juicy crunch heard in classrooms across Canada on Thursday was part of a nationwide campaign aimed at making noise about healthy eating in schools.

The Great Big Crunch encourages kids to bite into fruits and veggies over highly processed foods.

Though this marks the campaign’s ninth year, it’s part of a fresh push from Food Secure Canada and the Coalition for Healthy School Food to get a national nutritional food program in schools.

Canada is one of the few industrialized countries without a national school food program, according to Sasha McNicoll, co-ordinator of the Coalition for Healthy School Food.

Currently, there’s a “patchwork of programs” in place, she said. It varies between provinces and municipalities.

“Not all kids are being fed,” she said, “and that leads to some kids going to school on an empty stomach and not being able to learn as well as the other kids.”

“Where there are healthy school programs, kids are eating more vegetables and fruits, they’re doing better in school and they’re behaving better. It impacts so much of their lives.”

A recent Senate committee report on obesity said the Canada Food Guide needs a refresh.

“Fruit juice, for instance, is presented as a healthy item when it is little more than a soft drink without the bubbles,” reads the report.

The Coalition for Healthy School Food is looking to harness that in the hopes that a new national food program will be included in the federal budget.

Meanwhile, students from Meadowlands Public School joined MPs at the Sir John A. MacDonald Building on Thursday for a unanimous red apple bite, followed by a day of activities on healthy eating.

Sarah Norman and Max Molnar, Grade 5 students at the school, say their teachers have been teaching healthy food habits since the first grade.

“We want to be healthy. We want to be active. We don’t want to be a couch potato,” said 11-year-old Molnar, with two apples in hand.

– With files from Torstar News Service

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