The Coalition for Healthy School Food & Food Literacy (Sustain Ontario) held an excellent one- hour meeting with MPP Matthew Rae on March 15, thanks to connections made by Diane O’Shea, P.H.Ec., who also expertly facilitated the meeting.
Rae is MPP for Perth/Wellington (Diane’s riding) and was Parliamentary Assistant to Minister of Education Lecce, until March 10, when he moved to Municipal Affairs & Housing.
In attendance via Zoom were available members of the Coalition: Sarah Keyes (Project Manager, Sustain Ontario), Dr. Peggy O’Neil, P.H.Ec., (Brescia University College), Janet Nezon (Rainbow Foods), Andrew Fleet (Growing Chefs Ontario) Jacob Keary-Moreland (PhD candidate Lakehead U.), Alicia Martin, (PhD candidate – U. of Guelph), Diane O’Shea and Mary Carver (OHEA), Matthew Rae and his Administrative Assistant, Peter Bury.
The agenda included a brief history of our food literacy efforts, definitions and examples of food literacy in-action, and our commitment and passion for the topic. Also included were questions about next steps and whether Bill 216 can be revived after it lost its’ holding position when the government was prorogued pre-election. The Coalition’s goal is to find another MPP to champion Food Literacy after the retirement of MPP Daryl Kramp. We sensed good vibes from Mr. Rae who said, he’d “speak to Minister Lecce.” We await feedback and guidance.
Rae who is originally from a Listowel-area dairy farm, appeared on-board with the Coalition’s concern for more food literacy K-12; but we know we must keep our finger on this topic.
In March, out-of-the-blue, the government announced one mandated ‘Technology’ course effective in 2024 for all students to graduate from high school. Hospitality & Tourism is one Technology option, it does not, however, have the food literacy competencies we are seeking for all students to achieve a desirable quality of home and family life.
“At the meeting with Mr. Rae, I was able to clearly reinforce that a Tech Hospitality course does not possibly address food literacy as a grade 9/10 Food and Nutrition course would,” said Diane O'Shea B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed., P.H.Ec., Family Studies Educator (Retired).
“The new Tech requirement could negatively impact current food literacy taught in Food & Nutrition and Grade 9 Family Studies (FS) courses. Hamilton Social Science heads are concerned about the possibility of fewer students opting for FS courses when a Tech option becomes mandatory. The result could be insufficient numbers to offer FS courses every semester. At my school, we had only 3 sections of the HFN course running this 22/23 year as is, ” said Camille Naranjit, OCT, P.H.Ec., OHEA President.
On March 27, Diane and Mary will attend a four-hour Food Forum Summit hosted by the Hon. Lisa Thompson, OMAFRA, via Zoom. Dr. Peggy O’Neil, P.H.Ec. will attend in-person at Queen’s Park. It’s important for OHEA to be a visible stake-holder and aware of government direction on food education. We remain dedicated to speak-up for Home Economists at every opportunity. Can we have success advocating for Food Literacy without a formal Bill? We await the answer.
We do know that we are stronger together working with like-minded groups. Leadership at Sustain Ontario has been fantastic. Check out their new collaborative website of Teacher Resources: https://foodisscience.ca/
The Ontario Home Economics Association, a self-regulating body of professional Home Economists, promotes high professional standards among its members so that they may assist families and individuals to achieve and maintain a desirable quality of life.