MONCTON (GNB) – The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is providing Food Depot Alimentaire with up to $550,000 to give more students in need better access to healthy foods.

“School food programs promote the health, well-being and long-term success of students,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder. “That is why partnerships such as this are so important; they help ensure vulnerable students have access to healthy meals.”

Holder spoke on behalf of Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy.

Beginning this week, 110 schools in the Anglophone East, Anglophone West, Anglophone South and Francophone sud school districts will be supplied with additional healthy foods.

Food Depot Alimentaire already works with more than 50 schools in the Anglophone East, Anglophone West and Francophone sud districts in supporting a free breakfast program. Through the organization’s local food buying strategy, this new partnership will allow local farms to play a larger role in providing nutrition to students in need.

“I’m pleased to see this crucial program is being expanded and that students will be able to enjoy healthy, local food,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson. “It’s important that the younger generation knows where their food comes from. This initiative aligns with our Local Food and Beverages Strategy and encourages folks to Grow NB, Buy NB and Feed NB.”

Other existing community partners, such as Breakfast Club of Canada and the Brewer Foundation, will be invited to support the rollout of programming. The funding will go toward provision of foods such as milk and other dairy products; eggs; fruits and vegetables; cereals and grains; and condiments.

“We are very excited to expand our involvement supporting school nutrition programs,” said Food Depot Alimentaire executive director Stéphane Sirois. “Our mission is to service the front line on hunger. The food bank network in New Brunswick is stepping up to support schools, ensuring that students start the day with a healthy breakfast.”

The government funding is intended to cover the supply of food until December. Education and Early Childhood Development will work with Food Depot Alimentaire to ensure funding for the second half of the school year. It will also continue to explore options to expand healthy food services to more schools with the help of community partners.