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Schools & Child Care

Promoting Food and Nutrition in Schools

Promoting Food and Nutrition in Schools

The food environment can impact students’ ability to achieve health and well-being. It’s important to create a healthy school food culture. Nourished students are better prepared to learn. The way food and nutrition is promoted and accessible in the school should be consistent with the food skills and nutrition education being taught in the classroom. This will support the development of eating competencies and positive food and eating attitudes, skills and behaviour for life.

The benefits of creating a Healthy School Food Culture are endless.


Use the sample activities below to help incorporate the topic of food and nutrition into your school action plan and/or engage students, staff, families and community partners to come up with ideas of your own:

We have compiled a list of lesson plans, curriculum supports, health unit programs and additional resources to assist educators in teaching about this topic. Find them by clicking on the links below:

Some additional strategies for promoting healthy eating in the classroom setting include:

  • Share the Nurturing Healthy Eaters resource with school staff.
  • Use Non-food rewards for student recognition.
  • Use foods from Canada’s Food Guide as a teaching tool (e.g. apples in math).
  • Create a school or classroom cookbook.
  • Rethink classroom celebrations - celebrate without food from Canada’s Food Guide.
  • Use non-food rewards for student recognition.
  • Train adult role models including staff, students and parent volunteers about identifying weight bias and weight stigma.
  • Engage school councils and fundraising committees in healthy fundraising initiatives.
  • Encourage student-led initiatives to promote and improve cafeteria food and the social environment.
  • Develop nutrition policies or school rules for classroom celebrations, fundraising and special events.

There are many ways to engage students in school food initiatives, such as:

  • Create and maintaining school/community garden or greenhouse.
  • Support school-wide meal programs or Student Nutrition Programs.
  • Support school-wide campaigns - World School Milk Day, The Great Big Crunch, etc.
  • Organize a theme week during nutrition month (March).
  • Create menus including fresh produce for cafeteria or salad/smoothie bar.
  • Create and support youth-led social justice initiatives about food industry marketing or household food insecurity.
  • Advocate for water promotion in the school and installation of hydration stations.
  • Involve students in planning and implementing changes to the student nutrition program to ensure foods offered meet the nutrition guidelines.

  • Ensure food choices comply with the Ontario School Food & Beverage Policy, PPM 150 and offer foods from Canada's Food Guide whenever food is offered or sold. For example, fundraising and catered lunches (e.g. pizza days), cafeteria food, etc.
  • Establish guidelines, school rules or nutrition policies for classroom celebrations and school events.
  • Ensure the Student Nutrition Programs follows the Student Nutrition Program nutrition guidelines
  • Create a nut-free environment and offer anaphylaxis training to staff to support Sabrina's Law.
  • Create safe, clean and pleasant eating areas that are peanut/nut safe.
  • Encourage families to pack litterless lunches to support healthy eating and eco schools initiatives and nutritious food choices.
  • Create and maintain a school/community garden or greenhouse. Review the Garden, Grow and Learn resource (found in the additional resources below.)
  • Offer and promote a School Milk Program that is accessible and affordable to all students.
  • Use  non-food rewards for student recognition.
  • Offer nutritious snacks during provincial testing and exams.
  • Install hydration stations and allow students to have water bottles on their desks throughout the day.
  • Offer a salad bar or smoothie bar for staff and students.
  • Engage community partners in the development, planning, and implementation of Healthy Schools initiatives.
  • Share BrightBites as a resource with teachers, students and school council for planning and implementing activities and initiatives to improve the school food culture in your school.
  • Provide parent, student and community education about healthy eating practices and food safety e.g. School Lunch Your Kids Will Munch.
  • Encourage parents and volunteers to take the You're the Chef leader's training to offer food skills program to students.
  • Share resources with your students and their families to encourage nourishing meal and snack choices at school and at home.
  • Encourage parents to send in fruit trays and themed veggie trays instead of candy and cupcakes for celebrations, or consider whether food is really necessary to celebrate every event.
  • Include non-food activities on school fundraising plans. Examples: dance-a-thon, poinsettia or magazine sales, or fundraise with fruit and vegetables like oranges or grapefruit or Fresh from the Farm fundraising.
  • Encourage volunteers to take a certified food handler training certification to support the Student Nutrition Program in the school.
  • Offer vegetables and fruit with catered lunch days.
  • Arrange for educational visits to visit local farms, greenhouses, farmers' markets or grocery stores.
  • Arrange for your school to be a Good Food Box drop/pick up site.
  • Involve families and local community in school/community gardens/greenhouses.
  • Partner with local community groups to apply for grants to support food and nutrition initiatives.
  • Partner with local community kitchens or post-secondary school hospitality programs for food skills opportunities.

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