Can Twitter feed the children?

My friend, Emma, is a blogger extraordinaire over at Embrace the Chaos. She writes funny and trenchant posts about parenting almost every day of the week, and she’s never afraid to wade into tricky territory.

(She also c0-wrote a fabulous cookbook for families called Whining and Dining: Mealtime Survival Strategies for Picky Eaters and the Families Who Love Them, a book I use all the time, including this weekend for my awesome, youthful, not-at-all-picky dad’s birthday cake, pictured here.)

Last week, she wrote about how she posed a question on Twitter asking for ideas on how a Toronto school with a funding shortfall for its school feeding program could generate funds and feed the kids the rest of the year. Her post got a ton of response and the school in a low-income, mainly newcomer community got their school meals paid for.

It’s a great story and shows both the still-astonishing (to me) power of Twitter and the good will of people when faced with something unimaginable like kids in a relatively wealthy city like Toronto going hungry at school.

But from where I sit, it also shows the profound failure of the Canadian system with its lack of a properly funded school feeding program. The principal at the school with the funding shortfall no doubt had to beg for the money she did get for school feeding in the first place—asking the shaky flotilla of nonprofits, piecemeal government grants and/or school board to help support her kids get the education they are promised. Then, when the money didn’t last until the end of the year she had to rely on Twitter to feed the children.

It’s a drum I’ve beaten many times before but it still shocks me that Canada is one of the only developed nations in the entire world that fails to have a coherent national strategy to feed school kids. The U.S. has one; so does Italy and Japan; even Russia, Brazil and India feed their kids at school. At least one commenter on Emma’s blog claims parents are the people who should be feeding their schoolkids, but I believe that as a society we have a responsibility to  children and each other, and the best expression of this (in this context) is a universal school feeding program that ensures no one gets left behind.

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