Ontario Government commits $2 million to support kids
TORONTO, June 5 /CNW/ - Minister Responsible for Children John Baird announced today that the Dairy Farmers of Ontario will receive $2 million over two years to expand the Ontario Elementary School Milk Program to reach more schools and children across the province. The grant was awarded under the Ontario government's Early Years Challenge Fund.
Baird made the announcement at "School Milk Matters", the first North American International Conference on School Milk organized by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. Delegates from around the world have gathered at this conference to discuss strategies to ensure a healthy future for school milk programs in Canada and abroad.
"I am here today to congratulate the Dairy Farmers of Ontario for participating in this new initiative," said Baird. "Their proposal for funding through the Early Years Challenge Fund recognizes that good daily nutrition is essential to the healthy development of children, especially during the first six years of their lives."
Launched in December 2000, Ontario's Early Years Challenge Fund matches contributions made by businesses, and volunteer and charitable groups for programs that will help parents give their children the best possible start in life. Through community partnerships, the Harris government funds new services that are aimed at helping children during their first six years of life - the most important time to develop the skills needed to achieve their full potential through the rest of their lives.
"We are excited by this opportunity to expand the Elementary School Milk Program for children and families across the province," said Nick Price-Owen, of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. "There is growing enthusiasm in support of early child development. The Early Years Challenge Fund is giving our organization the opportunity to expand our children's school milk program so that almost 70 percent of Ontario's elementary schools will participate."
Under the expanded Elementary School Milk Program, the Dairy Farmers of Ontario will provide milk and information on the importance of good nutrition to an additional 650 elementary schools. Lactose-free products will be provided to children who cannot drink milk. Over 296,000 more children across the province will benefit from the program as a result of the matching contribution from the Challenge Fund grant.
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For more information visit http://www.gov.on.ca/CSS or
Minister Responsible for Children
EARLY YEARS CHALLENGE FUND GRANT DAIRY FARMERS OF ONTARIO
Early Years Challenge Fund
Ontario's landmark Early Years Study, commissioned by Premier Mike Harris and co-authored by Dr. Fraser Mustard and the Honourable Margaret McCain, demonstrated the critical importance of investing in a child's early years. The study recommended that the government provide a fund to help communities create successful early years programs. The government embraced these findings and is implementing the Early Years Challenge Fund, a key commitment to provide early years programs for children and families across Ontario.
This initiative encourages all sectors to get involved. Through this fund, the government is challenging businesses, community and faith organizations, voluntary and charitable sectors, parents, service providers and all levels of government to develop collaborative and creative initiatives to support children and families. The main objective of the Early Years Challenge Fund is to build capacity in communities to develop local early years programs so that all families in Ontario can help their children reach their full potential.
The government's contribution this year will grow to $30 million. The provincial government will match contributions, both financial and in-kind, raised by communities to support innovative, creative strategies that draw on the resourcefulness of communities and build on existing front line services to families.
The Early Years Challenge Fund has four streams: Provincial, Community, Francophone and Aboriginal. The Harris government invited groups to put forward proposals for province-wide projects in January 2001. Early Years Challenge Fund Guidelines and Application packages for Community, Francophone and Aboriginal Funding Streams will soon be available on the web site for the Minister Responsible for Children at www.childsec.gov.on.ca
Dairy Farmers of Ontario
The Dairy Farmers of Ontario will use its Early Years Challenge Fund grant to provide lunch milk to an additional 650 elementary schools or 296,600 children in Ottawa-Carleton, Bruce-Grey, Sudbury, Windsor, Durham, Peel, Limestone, Niagara, Greater Toronto, Hamilton and Algoma. The program will focus on preschool, Kindergarten and Grade 1 students.
The grant will enable the organization to create a fund for families who cannot afford to access the program, and to offer an honorarium for volunteers to coordinate delivery of the program in schools. Delivery of this program includes the distribution of educational materials on the importance of healthy eating.
The Dairy Farmers of Ontario will work with community partners to expand the Elementary School Milk Program. One of these partners is Woods, a Canadian refrigerator manufacturer that will provide new participating schools with refrigerators. Another partner, The Canadian Living Foundation - Breakfast for Learning, will continue to include the program's materials in their own information packages and to encourage schools to start lunchtime milk programs.
The Elementary School Milk Program was started by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario in 1987. Currently, 60 percent of Ontario's elementary schools - or approximately 850,000 students daily - are participating in the program.
The Harris government is proud to support this initiative as it continues to lead the nation in promoting and supporting all young children in their early years.
For more information on Ontario's Early Years Challenge Fund visit http://www.gov.on.ca/CSS or http://www.childsec.gov.on.ca
For further information: Dan Miles, Minister's Office, (416) 325-5215