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The Conference Board of Canada says P.E.I.'s Breakfast for Learning program should be expanded to include lunch. (iStock)

P.E.I.'s Breakfast for Learning program should be expanded to include lunch, says the Conference Board of Canada.

Currently, about 6,000 students are fed a healthy breakfast at 49 schools across the province. A handful of schools also serve snacks.

But lunch should be served as well, said board researcher Alison Howard, who co-authored Enough for All: Household Food Security in Canada, a study that was released last week.

Children can face negative impacts if they don't get enough healthy food, she said.

"For example, teenagers are particularly at risk from suffering from depression, social anxiety, suicide. Also nutritionally deprived children tend to experience more health problems, such as anemia, weight loss, colds and infections. They tend to be absent from school more often, and have more learning difficulties," said Howard.

"And, moreover, diet-deprived children are just less able to concentrate and perform well at school, thus threatening their opportunity to gain an education and to gain those vital skills that they're going to need for the rest of their lives."

Investing in more extensive school meal programs now will mean spending less money for social assistance, healthcare and policing later, said Howard.

For mobile device users: Should the Breakfast for Learning program expand to include lunch?