07/30/2015 03:38 EDT | Updated 07/30/2015 03:59 EDT

Alberta Teachers Sharing Their Own Food With Hungry Students, Survey Finds

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CALGARY— It appears most Alberta teachers are serving up more than just lesson plans to their students.

According to a new survey of provincial principals, 62 per cent of respondents said hunger relief in their school is addressed through the provision of emergency food by teachers.

Half of the principals polled also said long-term, sustainable funding is not available for food programs at their school.

The survey was sponsored by three groups — the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention, Growing Food Security in Alberta Network and Promoting Optimal Weights through Ecological Research.

It concluded that while many schools have taken big steps in creating healthy food environments, more has to be done.

Mark Ramsankar of the Alberta Teachers Association says many teachers will share their own lunch with students.

"I know of a colleague I personally worked with who purchased food and had food in his classroom so children that were short on lunch or didn't have lunch would sometimes come there for a cup of soup or dry goods that would be available.''

Ramsankar added the survey reinforces what the ATA has been saying for years.

"Socio-economic conditions in the province sometimes take a backseat to other discussion because we live in Alberta and the conversation around the fact that so many children live below the poverty line, is one that many individuals don't like to discuss,'' he said. ``When you see a child hungry, you will do what you can to try and support that child.''

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