How Many Children Don't Eat Lunch on School Days in Canada?

On a typical school day in 2015, more than 1 in 20 children in Canada didn’t eat lunch. This finding comes from a study in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. The research was done by Dr. Claire Tugault-Lafleur at the University of Ottawa. She looked at data from 3,000 kids, ages 6 to 17, collected in the 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey-Nutrition.

The study showed that older kids were more likely to skip lunch. Nearly 10% of teens (14-17 years old) didn’t have any lunch. But only 4% of younger kids (6-13 years old) did the same. Also, kids from homes without enough food were at a bigger risk of missing lunch. Notably, teenagers who smoke were more likely to skip lunch.

What’s unexpected is that the study showed no big differences in who didn’t eat lunch. It didn’t matter if the kids’ families were rich or poor, where they lived, their gender, or their cultural background. Neither did it matter if a child was overweight or underweight. This tells us that skipping lunch on school days affects children all over Canada. It’s a problem that touches kids from various situations.

Alarming Statistics on Children Skipping Lunch

Recent Study Reveals Widespread Issue

“Who misses lunch on school days in Canada?” is a revealing study. It was published in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. The review looked at how often children skip lunch, especially which kids are most likely to skip it on school days.

One in Twenty Students Misses Lunch

The researchers examined 2015 data from the Canadian Community Health Survey-Nutrition. They focused on nearly 3,000 children aged 6-17 across Canada. The data showed that over 1 in 20 kids didn’t eat lunch on a school day in 2015.

This issue was more common with older kids. Nearly one in ten adolescents (14-17 years) went without lunch. This is compared to only 4% of the younger children (6-13 years).

Factors Contributing to Lunch Avoidance

A recent study showed older kids were more likely to skip lunch. Around one out of ten teens didn’t eat lunch as compared to only 4% of younger kids. Kids in families with food insecurity were also twice as likely to skip lunch. Teens who smoked skipped lunch more than non-smokers. But, missing lunch wasn’t related to income, gender, race, living in town or country, or weight.

Age: Adolescents at Higher Risk

Older children, especially teens, were found to often skip lunch. Almost 10% of teens didn’t have lunch while this was true for just 4% of younger kids. Thus, teens face a bigger risk of not eating their midday meal.

Food Insecurity: Households Struggling to Provide

Kids who live in homes where food is scarce are more likely to skip their lunch. This shows that when food isn’t enough, nutritious meals, including lunch, might not be a daily option. It plays a part in why some kids avoid lunch.

Smoking Habits Linked to Skipping Meals

Teens who smoked were more prone to missing their lunch. This indicates a link between unhealthy habits like smoking and the chance of not eating during school hours.

Children Skipping Lunch: A Nationwide Concern

A recent study shows that kids all over the U.S. are missing lunch. It doesn’t matter if their parents have high or low income. Their gender, race, where they live, and their weight don’t change this fact. This problem affects kids no matter their background or if they live in the city or countryside.

Impacts Span Diverse Backgrounds

Skipping lunch is not just a problem for some kids; it’s widespread. This issue affects kids from all types of families. The study found that family income, gender, and race don’t make a difference.

Urban and Rural Areas Affected

This skipping lunch issue isn’t just in one area; it’s everywhere. Kids in the city and those from the countryside both face this. The problem affects children living in different places around the U.S.

Consequences of Missing Midday Meals

School children face health risks when they skip lunch. Nutrients and energy from lunch help their bodies grow. Not eating at noon can make blood sugar drop, affecting how energetic and smart kids are. For those with diabetes, this is extra tough. Also, missing lunch affects how fast their metabolism works, which might make losing weight harder.

Barriers to Learning and Focus

Missing lunch also messes with kids’ ability to learn and pay attention. Good food is key for thinking and doing well in school. Studies show kids who skip meals miss out on lots of good foods. Without these foods, they may lack the energy to focus during the day. This can lead to feeling tired and unable to pay attention in class.

Social and Emotional Well-being Affected

Not eating lunch can make kids feel left out or not belong. It can also make them act upset, moody, and less interested in school. Feeling anxious or sad is also possible. Skipping lunch messes with hormones that tell us when we’re hungry or full. This can make kids confused about eating.

See also  Get to Know Your School Lunch Program

Choosing to skip lunch is a bad idea. It affects how kids feel in their body, mind, and with others. It can even lead to problems like eating disorders. It’s important to have a good plan for meals to keep kids healthy and happy.

Efforts to Address the Issue

In Canada, many are working to help children who don’t eat lunch at school. The Breakfast Club of Canada is one key group. It gives food to kids who need it. Right now, they serve 3,361 schools. But 600 more schools are waiting to join the program.

School Nutrition Programs and Initiatives

The Breakfast Club of Canada is at the forefront. It ensures children start their day with a nutritious meal. Their programs help kids learn to eat healthily.

Community and Non-Profit Support

Places in the community and non-profit sector also support. For instance, Toronto’s Angel Foundation for Learning is a big help. They give money and support school food programs. These actions are vital to stop children from skipping lunch. They ensure every child has enough food to do well.

But that’s not all. There are calls for a nationwide school food program in Canada. Advocates want to further tackle the issue of children skipping lunch. A program like this would add to what’s already there. It would make sure all kids get the food they need to be healthy and do their best.,

Call for a National School Food Program

There is a call for a national school food program in Canada. The goal is to stop children from missing lunch at school. Judith Barry, from the Breakfast Club of Canada, suggests this program could be the best way to give all kids daily, healthy meals.

Building on Existing Ecosystem

This program would work with current school nutrition efforts. It would help make sure every student gets the food they need to succeed. Right now, local school programs in Canada serve about two million children. But, many of these rely on donations for most of their funding. This shows there may be issues with keeping them going.

Increasing Access and Equity

A national program would tackle these problems. It would make sure every child, no matter their family’s income, has good food to eat. In Greater Toronto, about 65% of kids use school food programs. A national effort could make a big difference by reaching more kids, improving their diets, and their lives.

The plan is to invest $1 billion in the National School Food Program over five years. This will help serve an additional 400,000 kids each year. By combining this with current efforts, a stronger and more lasting solution could be formed. Every child would have the food they need to do well in school.

Children Skipping Lunch: Voices from the Field

Researchers, experts, and school administrators discuss kids who skip lunch in Canada. They mention the need for more study. This is to better understand the reasons kids don’t eat at school.

Insights from Researchers and Experts

Judith Barry supports school meal programs. She talks about how they help everyone at school. This includes better behavior and doing well in school.

Experiences from School Administrators

Maureen Matthews and Kelly Bickford share their experiences. They talk about the need for food programs and the way they should be offered. It’s vital to give students healthy food without making them feel bad.

Strategies to Tackle Food Insecurity

Solving the problem of children missing school lunch needs many actions. These actions should target the main reasons behind kids not eating. Working together, schools, community groups, and leaders can make a big difference.

Addressing Root Causes

Debbie Field from the Coalition for Healthy School Food says schools need more money for meals due to high food prices. This extra help makes sure all kids can learn and grow with nutritious food, no matter their family’s income.

Collaborative Efforts and Partnerships

Judith Barry thinks having a national food policy for schools is a good idea. It would expand school food efforts and help more kids and areas. By uniting schools, groups, and leaders, these programs can do even more. This can fight kids missing lunch everywhere.

Policy Actions and Funding Support

Big steps, like the government planning a country-wide food program, are important. So is keeping up with enough money. With these moves and the support from schools and charities, we can deal with food insecurity. This way, every child can have a meal at school.


Kids skipping lunch in Canada is a big issue. It affects a lot of students, with 1 out of 20 not eating at school. This problem is worse for teens and kids from families who struggle to get enough food. Not eating lunch has negative effects, like not getting enough nutrients, trouble in learning, and emotional issues.

See also  Delicious and Nutritious: A Guide to School Lunches

Canada has programs to help, but they’re not enough. Experts suggest a big national plan to give all students good food. They want everyone to work together to fix this problem. They believe this is key to keeping kids healthy and helping them succeed.

Fighting child lunch skipping will make things better. It will help more kids get healthy food at school and fight food not being available and hunger in students. This will make young people choose better food at lunchtime, not skip meals, and learn more about eating well.


What is the prevalence of children skipping lunch on school days in Canada?

In 2015, more than 1 in 20 Canadian students didn’t eat lunch on a school day. This info comes from a study in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition.

Which age group is at the highest risk of missing lunch?

Older kids face this problem more, especially teenagers. Nearly one in ten teens (14-17) don’t have lunch. This is higher than the 4% rate for younger children (6-13).

What are the factors contributing to children skipping lunch?

Living in a food insecure home doubles the chance of missing lunch. Also, teenagers who smoke are more likely to skip lunch.

Is the issue of children skipping lunch limited to certain demographics or areas?

Missing lunch affects children all over Canada, regardless of wealth or location. It doesn’t matter if parents live in the city or countryside, or if children are slim or overweight.

What are the consequences of children missing their midday meals?

Not having lunch can mean health problems, trouble focusing in class, and emotional struggles. Good nutrition is key for thinking well, doing well in school, and feeling good overall.

What efforts are being made to address the issue of children skipping lunch?

Schools and groups like the Breakfast Club work hard to give meals to those who need them. Plus, community and non-profit groups help fund these meals for students.

What is the call for a national school food program in Canada?

Many experts want Canada to have a national food program for schools. This would help make sure every student can get food easily, which is good for learning and growing up strong.

What insights have researchers, experts, and school administrators provided on this issue?

These people say more research is needed on why students don’t eat lunch. They see the benefits of school food programs for everyone and want to make sure all kids can get nutritious food without feeling bad.

What strategies are needed to tackle food insecurity and ensure all children have access to nourishing meals?

Fixing the lunch-skipping problem needs many steps. It means working together from schools to the government to make sure kids can always get good food at school.

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