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TORONTO: MAY 11, 2012-- Grade 11 student Divine Kibinda eats an apple that was provided to her class as part of a breakfast program at Emery Collegiate Institute in Toronto on Friday, May 11, 2012. School nutrition programs are set to receive more funding from Ontario.

Michelle Siu/The Globe and Mail

The Ontario government says it is putting more money into a number of school nutrition programs to ensure students get off to a healthy start.

Children and Youth Services Minister Teresa Piruzza announced Tuesday that $3 million will go towards providing elementary school students with healthy breakfasts and snacks.

She said the funding will create over 200 new programs and feed more than 30,000 children in communities with the highest needs.

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"Our goal is to improve the health and education of all our children," she said.

Toronto Public Health released a report last June that found children who eat a nutritious breakfast are healthier, behave better and learn more.

The agency's director of healthy living said hunger is distracting and can hold kids back.

"We all say kids should do well in school and participate in physical activity," Carol Timmings said.

"But it's hard to get a child to be physically active when they're concentrating on their hungry stomachs."

The provincial government supports the Student Nutrition Program as part of Ontario's Poverty Reduction Strategy.

The province pays for a portion of the programs, while parents and schools raise the rest of the money.

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Krista Taylor, 40, volunteers with the food program at Toronto's Church Street Junior Public School, where both her children are enrolled.

She welcomed the added funding, saying all kids deserve to be well-fed.

"They are growing children. Their bodies need food," she said.

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