Supportive nutrition environments exist within schools when healthy eating behaviours are promoted through both words and actions. By delivering and modeling consistent messages about nutrition and food, students receive consistent information about healthy eating – whether they are selling items to raise funds, purchasing a snack within the school, or learning in the classroom.
Hunger and Food Insecurity
When teaching about nutrition, it is important to recognize that students may not have access to nutritious food or control over the food choices available to them. Students should not be penalized or stigmatized based on food they bring from home. Avoid commenting on student snacks or lunches.
Promoting a Positive Body Image
Educators play a key role in providing consistent messages to promote positive body image. Words and actions related to healthy eating, body shape, or appearance that are intended to be helpful may have unintended, negative effects. Avoid comments or discussions about calories, dieting, weight loss, or appearance. Emphasize body diversity and eating to feel good and fuel our bodies. When children and youth feel good about themselves and their bodies, they are more likely to adopt healthy behaviours like eating well and being active.
Using the Ministry of Education’s Foundations for a Healthy School framework, schools, school boards, parents and community partners can work together to develop healthy school environments that promote and support student well-being. Information below has been organized following this framework.
Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
Level Up (Grades 1 – 8)
The Level Up resource is organized into four sections: Program Guide, Activity Cards, Videos, and Posters. The activity cards are divided into six units, which include activities to help children and youth develop living skills (self-monitoring and critical thinking) and health literacy through the lens of well-being in relation to healthy eating.
Teach Body Image (Grades JK – 8)
Teach Body Image contains lessons that educators can use to promote a healthy body image while teaching about healthy eating and active living.
School and Classroom Leadership
The Ministry of Education issued the School Food and Beverage Policy (also called PPM 150) in 2011. The Ontario government is committed to making schools a healthier place for students, to establish the conditions needed to realize the potential of all students. The purpose of this memorandum is to set out nutrition standards for food and beverages sold in publicly-funded elementary and secondary schools in Ontario. See below for additional details.
Promotion of Healthy Eating
Ideas for Action: Ideas for Action is a free, activity-based resource supporting leaders of all ages in the planning and implementation of activities that promote and enhance the health and well-being of students, school staff, and the broader community. This resource provides easy-to-use activities on the topics of healthy eating, mental health and physical activity that can be modified for elementary or secondary students and their leaders.
Nurturing Healthy Eaters: These resources for educators, created by Ontario Dietitians in Public Health, provide tips on creating a positive eating environment, building trust with students and families, and teaching nutrition in a positive way.
Tools and Training for Educators
Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds: This guide is designed to help educators positively impact the body image, self-esteem and overall mental and physical health of students in the classroom and whole school environment.
Food Literacy Train-the-Trainer Workshops: Our free Train-the-Trainer workshops are available for educators interested in running a cooking program at their school.
Food Handler Training Certification: This low cost training offered by HPEPH is available in several formats for any individuals interested in obtaining their food handler’s certificate.
A Journey Through Canada’s New Food Guide – What Educators Need to Know: This webinar recording includes a discussion on the update to Canada’s Food Guide and information to help support students’ understanding of the food guide.
Supporting Healthy Eating at School – This webinar recording provides an overview of ways to support children to eat well and nurture healthy relationships with food in the school setting and beyond.
Food Neutral Classrooms: Safer Food Teaching is Possible – Videos for educators, developed by Gwen Kostal, RD from Dietitians 4 Teachers. Password: schools
- Fresh from the Farm: This program offers an alternative to traditional fundraising. Students can sell Ontario-grown produce to raise funds while promoting healthy eating.
- Bake it Up!: Give your next bake sale a makeover with tasty recipes that comply with the School Food and Beverage Policy PPM150 “Sell Most” criteria.
School Wide Campaigns
Social and Physical Environments
BrightBites is a website designed to help schools transform their food and nutrition environment. School teams can earn badges and compete with other Ontario schools in the Hall of Fame. Badges include:
- Reason to Celebrate
- It’s an Honour
- Show Me the Money
- Fresh it Up
- School Milk Program
- Water Works
- Green Thumb
Families can access fresh and nutritious vegetables and fruit at a fraction of the retail cost through this program from CDC Quinte. Contact Jim Mallabar at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if your school may qualify as a pick-up site (orders of 20 or more boxes required).
The website above offers tips, recipes, and resources to help you make the most of your school’s Student Nutrition Program.
Home, School and Community Partnerships
Fact Sheets for Parents
These hands-on classes are available for children, families, and adults in various locations in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties.
- Engage community partners in the development, planning, and implementation of Healthy Schools initiatives.
- Involve the local community in school/community gardens or greenhouses.
- Consider partnering with local community groups to apply for grants to support healthy eating initiatives in your school.
- Consider partnering with local community organizations to develop food skills opportunities for students.
- Canada’s Food Guide: Outlines a healthy pattern of eating for Canadians that includes recommendations on food choices and eating habits. This is a one-stop Government of Canada link to a wide range of credible, up-to-date information including healthy eating tips for families and children.
- Food Access Guide: Information on free and low-cost food and meal programs in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties including emergency food services, food box programs, and community gardens.
- Unlock Food: UnlockFood.ca is your go-to place for easy to understand information on nutrition, food, healthy eating, and disease prevention.
- Cookspiration: Be inspired to cook any time, day or night, with Cookspiration, created by Dietitians of Canada. Recipe ideas are served up to suit your mood and schedule.
- Telehealth Ontario: Talk directly to a Registered Dietitian by calling Telehealth Ontario toll free at: 1-866-797-0000. Dietitians are available Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.
- What Can I Serve?: This document outlines Food safety guidelines for before and after school, breakfast, lunch, snack programs, and school council events.
- Nutrition Labelling: An interactive tool to educate consumers about nutrition facts tables, % daily value, ingredient lists and nutrition claims.
- Sustain Ontario Edible Education Network: Resources and information to make it easier for people across Ontario to get children and youth eating, growing, cooking, celebrating, and learning about nutritious local and sustainably-produced food.
- Reflections on Body Image: The ETFO Body Image Project: An overview of body image in terms of child development and a list of key resources.