Samantha Gambling, Pam Kawinsky (principal, Suwilaawks Community School), Margo Peill (community animator of the Northwest Regional Hub, Farm to School BC), and Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach at Suwilaawks Community School on Oct.1. (Submitted photo/Samantha Gambling)

Samantha Gambling, Pam Kawinsky (principal, Suwilaawks Community School), Margo Peill (community animator of the Northwest Regional Hub, Farm to School BC), and Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach at Suwilaawks Community School on Oct.1. (Submitted photo/Samantha Gambling)

More stable funding needed for healthy school food programs in northwest B.C. says advocacy group

The BC Chapter of the Coalition for Healthy School Food met with Terrace locals last week

A national nonprofit organization is advocating more funding for healthy school food programs in northwest B.C.

The BC Chapter of the Coalition for Healthy School Food (BC-CHSF) is part of a national coalition advocating for public investment and federal standards in a universal cost shared healthy school food program for all K-12 students across the country.

Samantha Gambling, the project coordinator for the network in B.C. was in Terrace this week to meet up members from the northwest region who are part of the coalition. The Kalum Community School Society is part of the coalition in the city.

Gambling held a virtual town hall meeting last week and met with members from the school district, parents, municipalities, NDP MP Taylor Bachrach other stakeholders in the region to get a sense of what is needed here.

She said the need for more universal school food programs and stable funding for existing ones was one of the most communicated needs.

“There needs to be infrastructure to support not just the food provision at schools but also to support the local agriculture or local food products coming into schools because there’s a big opportunity there to also support local producers, like local food economies that isn’t being tapped into right now,” said Gambling.

While networking with the public, Gambling said they also advocated for more focus on Indigenous food sovereignty and how it could be further incorporated into school food programs.

“Northwest could really be a leader in B.C. and across Canada, to demonstrate what that [Indigenous food sovereignty] looks like in practice, to have Indigenous foods in schools and we know that Haida Gwaii for example is a really amazing leader when it comes to local food to school programming,” she said.

Some of suggestions included getting traditional foods such as salmon into schools as well as getting other practices and elders into the school to support the teaching.

Talking about Indigenous food sovereignty, Gambling also said that it’s also important to ensure that Indigenous nations and communities have control over programs for Indigenous students.

“We know of the traumatic histories of schools and food systems in this country and we do not want to repeat any mistakes that have made so making sure that Indigenous leadership is really in control of their own school food programs is pretty important.”