Student Nutrition Programs

It’s simple: when children are hungry, they can’t focus, and if they can’t focus, they can’t learn. That’s why 829 school and community-based Student Nutrition Programs (SNPs) provide over 228,000 nutritious meals every school day. Here, students eat a healthy breakfast, lunch, or a snack so that they can focus on learning rather than hunger. One in every four children in Toronto lives in poverty and 40% of all children come to school hungry each day. It can be as high as 68% in our most at-risk communities.

Research shows that when children have enough to eat, they feel energized, concentrate better in class and perform better in school. Also, school attendance increases, not surprising as many students told us that they made it to school because they knew that they could get a nutritious breakfast. Funding comes from parent contributions, individual and corporate donations, the City of Toronto and the Government of Ontario. It is our goal to ensure that no child begins the school day hungry. If you’d like to help, please consider a donation to Student Nutrition Programs.

Nutrition Pantry Program

In September 2020, when schools reopened after the first wave of COVID-19 closures, we noticed that some SNPs were unable to operate, and so, we looked for a way to support them. As well, high school students were not learning in-class full time, and had much less access to their SNPs. In response to the increased need, we piloted our Nutrition Pantry (NP) program to deliver food directly to schools. 

After a successful pilot, the NP program continues to grow. We created a Central Pantry which we stock with shelf stable foods that, with the help of TDSB Logistics Services and our grocery partners, we deliver out to elementary schools. This food, along with additional fresh, perishable items sent directly to schools, provides nutritional support to children, at no cost. For secondary students, schools set up Nutrition Pantries, stocked with food provided by TFSS. Here, students are able to choose a week’s worth of food to take home – things like tuna, soup, canned fruit, and cereal – to ensure they have access to food, when they need it. Last year, the NP program supplied 1,284,453 meals, providing nourishing food to over 55,700 students in 170 schools, across Toronto.  

Bridging the Nutrition Gap 

In 2023, soaring food costs and increasing need left many SNPs struggling to provide enough food for their students. So, we launched Bridging the Nutrition Gap to help make sure students in struggling SNPs get the minimum nutritional requirements of three full portions of healthy food to start each day at school. 

Through Bridging The Nutrition Gap, TFSS purchases healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk from the Ontario Food Terminal and other deep discount sources, and has them delivered directly to programs in the greatest need at no cost to the programs. By leveraging bulk purchasing, TFSS is able to provide 50% more food than if purchased at retail price. To keep our delivery costs low, we partnered with Second Harvest, and to help programs accommodate the extra food being delivered, we worked with donors to provide additional fridges, freezers and equipment. So far, Bridging the Nutrition Gap has supported 30,000 students in 85 schools across the city. Our goal is to reach even more children next year 

The Impact

“The food provided through Bridging the Nutrition Gap has had a big impact on our students and school community. We rely on it to make sure our students have daily access to healthy and nutritious foods. Without it, we would struggle to provide this food. The program has been a lifesaver for us, and we are incredibly grateful for it.” – School Administrator 

A middle school student’s family could not afford to feed him breakfast. He was arriving at school tired and frustrated which resulted in anger management issues and he often cut classes. Once this student started to eat breakfast and have snacks at his school’s Student Nutrition Program, his attitude changed dramatically, he paid attention in class, and soon was no longer spending time in detention.

An elementary school student’s single mother fell ill and was unable to provide her children with food each morning. The student and her siblings were arriving at school hungry and without snacks to keep their energy up during the day. With the help of their school’s Student Nutrition Program, the student and her siblings not only received the nutrition they needed to get through the school day but also learned how to prepare healthy food.

In The News


Ontario student nutrition programs grapple with nearly ‘limitless need’ | CityNews

March 11, 2024

Now, more than ever, funding from the province is needed to help sustain student nutrition programs across Ontario. Programs simply don’t have enough money to keep their doors open as food costs continue to soar and student need continues to rise. A doubled investment from the province from $32.3 million to $64.4 million would help ensure that no child goes hungry this school year.

To read the full article, click here.


A national school food program would do more than feed students | Policy Options

January 3, 2024

Mothers in particular would also benefit. Families would save money. Jobs would be created. The return on investment would be significant.

To read more, click here.



Canada is the only G7 country without a national school food program. Advocates say it’s time | CBC News

October 2, 2023

Canada is the only country in the G7 that doesn’t have a national school food program. Researchers say that as high inflation affects food prices, more children need access to these programs — but community groups say they need stable funding from the federal government to keep everyone fed.

To read more, click here.


Food insecurity among Canadian school-age children jumps by nearly 30% | Toronto Star

August 29, 2023

A new report by Children First Canada highlights a 29% increase in food insecurity, with one in four children lacking sufficient access to food. As need rises, Student Nutrition Programs play a crucial role in keeping children nourished. 

To read more, click here.




Canada’s inflation rate is falling, so why are grocery prices still so expensive? | CTV News

August 6, 2023

Economists say there are a number of factors driving up food prices, but they expect food inflation to slow over time. Here’s a look at some of the factors behind Canada’s high grocery prices and what to expect in the coming months.

To read more, click here.


Here’s how much food prices jumped in June in Canada | Yahoo Finance

July 18, 2023

Despite a slowdown in Canada’s annual inflation rate, Canadians continue to pay significantly more at the grocery store as food prices remain stubbornly high.

To read more, click here.




Vast majority of Canadians want a national school nutrition program implemented as soon as possible

June 13, 2023

As we enter the final stretch of the school year, a newly released study commissioned by Breakfast Club of Canada finds that the vast majority (84%) of Canadians say the federal Liberal government should make good on its election campaign promise as soon as possible to provide a $1 billion investment over five years to work towards a national school nutritious meal program.

To read more, click here.  


How rising prices are taking a bite out of school food programs | CBC News

June 11, 2023

Rising costs are making it more difficult for school food programs to meet the needs of students, as families struggle to deal with the high cost of living.

To read more, click here: 



Toronto student nutrition programs face ‘critical year’ due to rising food prices | CBC News

April 20, 2023

CBC’s ‘About That’ team recently spoke to students, staff and experts across the country about the impact of inflation on school meal programs, and what will happen if meal program budgets run dry.

To watch the full video, click here:

Toronto student nutrition programs face ‘critical year’ due to rising food prices | CBC News

September 9, 2022

With demand for nutrition increasing exponentially among students, and the cost of food out of control, this may well be a critical year for Student Nutrition Programs. 

Click here to learn more: