Teachers/school staff can:
- Make a healthier school nutrition environment, thus making the healthy choice the easy choice.
- Make it easier for students to focus, think and learn if they are well nourished.
- Support staff by providing clear guidelines related to food sold or served.
Healthy Eating Policy in Your School
Children and teens will eat about one third of their daily food intake at school.2 Students are better able to focus, think and learn if they are well-nourished.2 When healthy food and drinks are made available to students, then they are more likely to make healthy choices.3 School policies that address food and drinks served in school can help ensure healthy choices are available.
Ontario School Food and Beverage Policy
The Ministry of Education’s School Food and Beverage Policy (P/PM 150) became effective on September 1, 2011. The policy includes nutrition standards for all food and beverages that are sold in all publicly funded elementary and secondary schools. The policy applies to all food and beverages sold in all elementary and secondary schools.
It includes food sold:
- in cafeterias and vending machines
- in tuck shops/canteens
- through all programs, like catered lunch programs
- at all events, like bake sales and sporting events, on school property for school purposes
It does not include food:
- offered in schools at no cost
- brought from home or purchased off school property
- purchased during field trips
- sold for fundraising off school property
- sold in staff rooms
There are also 10 (or less) School Wide Special Event Days allowed per year that school principals with input from school councils and students may choose. On these days, food and beverages sold in the school may be exempt from the policy. However, schools are still encouraged to sell food and beverages that meet the nutrition standards even on these special days!
The At-A-Glance Guide to Ontario’s School Food and Beverage Policy provides an overview of the policy for parents and older students.
Other School Nutrition Policies
A comprehensive school nutrition policy can help guide school staff and students in developing healthy eating initiatives and can help promote healthy eating choices. Additional school nutrition policies that go beyond the Ontario School Food and Beverage Policy (P/PM 150) can lead to a more comprehensive approach to healthy eating. For example, a comprehensive school nutrition policy may also include information about fundraising, food served at school meeting and events, classroom celebrations and classroom rewards. A school nutrition policy shows the school’s commitment to the health of its students.
Steps for Creating a School Healthy Eating Policy:
- Gain commitment and support from the school community.
- Use Ontario’s School Food and Beverage Policy and ensure that it has been implemented as intended in your school.
- Complete a needs assessment to identify the experiences and needs of students as well as the needs and wants of people in the school community.
- Review comprehensive school nutrition policies created by other school boards as well as ideas outlined in the Vegetable and Fruit Toolkits for elementary and secondary schools.
- Decide if your school nutrition policy will take a comprehensive approach or if it will deal with one aspect of school nutrition (i.e. classroom celebrations) at a time.
- Join BrightBites for free and get access to a detailed guide for creating a school nutrition policy.
- Write the school policy with input from members of the school community and school board.
- Create a communication plan for the school policy. This helps to ensure that everyone in the school community is aware of what is expected of them and what they can expect from others.
- Evaluate the school policy and ensure it is updated regularly.