March 3, 2014

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: On Saturday, I was pleased to speak at the Building Food Skills for Eating Well conference in London. It was organized by the Ontario Home Economics Association as part of their efforts to address the need for more food education, and I want to commend and congratulate them on that.

Too many students are graduating high school or even university without basic cooking skills, nutritional knowledge and understanding of where their food comes from. At the conference, they talked about new parents who aren’t confident in their ability to cook for their children. They talked about how food education leads to healthier people.

We need to increase food literacy. That’s why the PC caucus put forward an amendment to the Local Food Act to require food education in all grades to ensure that all students learn the importance of nutrition, how to buy and cook fresh food, and where that food comes from.

At the conference, they announced the results of a study from Western University, which found 94% support for our amendment to require food education in all grades—Mr. Speaker, 94%. Unfortunately, government members blocked that amendment at committee, but I want to assure everyone that the PC caucus will continue to work to increase food education, as will the Ontario Home Economics Association and many other people and organizations.

This week, we are celebrating agriculture literacy week, and I want to challenge the government not just to talk about it but to take concrete action this week to increase both agriculture and food literacy.