More local food in schools part of PEI Food Security Network discussion

A co-chair with the PEI Food Security Network says one in five Island children are affected by household food insecurity.

Network's co-chair says more can be done to combat food insecurity in P.E.I.

PEI Food Security Network co-chair Kelly Gillis says one in five children in P.E.I. are affected by food insecurity in their homes. (Angela Walker/CBC)

A co-chair with the PEI Food Security Network says one in five Island children are affected by household food insecurity. 

Kelly Gillis said this is consistent across the Maritimes as well as in the Northwest Territories and has prompted the network to organize a panel discussion this week on how to get more local food in schools. 

"It's definitely happening," she said. "There are a lot of community members and school staff and volunteers who are engaged in getting more local foods into the school through different breakfast programs and food programs." 

Gillis added that some chefs are helping to develop food skills with cooking classes and gardening skills.

"Some schools are adopting space to host a community garden." 

Helping families

Having local foods in the school helps children and families who may otherwise not be able to afford it, said Gillis. 

"Increasingly, schools have become more responsible for taking care of that need. They've developed breakfast programs, an emergency food cupboard and after school snack programs." 

A panel discussion on having more local food in school will held as part of the PEI Security Network's annual meeting. (Angela Walker/CBC)

What is provided depends on many things, including procurement contracts.

But Gillis said some school chefs are well-connected with local farmers and are able to purchase directly from them.

Local products

Gillis said a number of chefs and a food services official will join the panel discussion. 

"They'll be speaking about their experiences ... bringing local Island food into schools in different ways." 

The panel will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Farm centre as part of PEI Food Security Network's annual meeting. 

With files from Mainstreet