Hassan Vatanparast, Professor

College of Pharmacy & Nutrition
University of Saskatchewan

Exploring the Possibilities and Impacts of a Universal School Lunch Program

In Canada, many school food programs are not offered universally and support only students targeted as “in need”. A universal school lunch program, Good Food for Learning, was piloted from September 2021 - June 2023 in two culturally diverse primary schools in low-income neighborhoods in Saskatoon. This session discusses the social, economic, and nutritional implications of school food programs in the context of this pilot project as well as larger scale economic and policy based analysis. Findings include student diet quality and intake across sex and grade at baseline, willingness to pay for universal school lunch programs, and the perceptions and policy implications of universally administered SFP programs. Considering a future national school food policy, this research helps to provide evidence and dialogue toward promising school food models and the improvements of childhood health and nutrition across Canada.

Speaker/Chair Bio:

Dr. Vatanparast (MD, PhD) is a Professor with a Joint Appointment to the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition and the School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan. He is actively involved in research and health promotion initiatives, mainly targeting health status and access to care for children and marginalized populations from different ethnocultural backgrounds. He is serving as chair/member in various scientific advisory panels and editorial boards at national and international levels. Dr. Vatanparast is teaching Advances in Health Promotion Program Planning and Evaluation and Advances in Public Health Nutrition. He is leading several research and health promotion initiatives at the local, national, and global levels aimed at improving the health of children and marginalized populations. Dr. Vatanparast and his co-researchers benefit from multi-sectoral collaboration in these initiatives and have published their findings in over 200 articles. Hassan and his colleagues continue their collaborative work to improve the health of at-risk populations, particularly children from different ethnic backgrounds and indigenous communities.