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Healthy School Food and Nutrition Policies

​A food and nutrition policy is a clearly written standard that has been chosen to make healthy food choices the easier choice and makes sure that good nutrition is promoted in theory and in practice.
All students need healthy foods to learn, play and grow. Healthy, well-nourished students are able to learn and perform better in class. A school food and nutrition policy that supports healthy food and beverage choices, both in and out of the classroom can benefit schools, parents and students.
Food and nutrition policies in Ontario
The Ontario government has shown its commitment to supporting a healthy school environment by implementing food and nutrition policies. The table below summarizes several key school policies implemented by the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Policy Name

Date Action/Result

Healthy Foods and Beverages in Elementary School Vending Machines

(Policy Memorandum No. 135)

October 2004​ This policy restricts the sale of all food and beverage items in elementary school vending machines to those that are healthy and nutritious.

Healthy Foods and Beverages in Elementary School Vending Machines

(Policy Memorandum No. 135)

April 2008​ This legislation requires that Ontario schools drop trans fat from food and beverages sold in schools.

​The School Food and Beverage Policy

(Policy/Program Memorandum No. 150)

​January 2010 ​This policy requires healthier food and beverage choices to be offered for sale in Ontario’s publicly funded (Catholic and public) elementary and secondary schools.
'Whole school' food and nutrition policies
Policies implemented by the Ministry of Education are only part of the whole picture. Schools, teachers, parents, students and communities are encouraged to support, advocate and create healthy school nutrition environments over time by addressing all areas of the school where food and beverages are discussed, promoted or sold.
Policies that address all aspects of the food and nutrition environment are referred to as a ‘whole school’ food and nutrition policy. A whole school food and nutrition policy supports each of the essential elements of a healthy school nutrition environment.
Whole school policies look at eight key elements:
  1. Nutrition education for all students from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
  2. Nutrition education for all teaching staff provided by registered dietitians.
  3. Healthy, reasonably priced and culturally appropriate food choices available in schools.
  4. Role modeling of healthy eating by school staff.
  5. Student, parent and community education about healthy eating .
  6. Safe food handling practices and an allergy-safe environment.
  7. Appropriate scheduling of nutrition breaks.
A policy could be created for each of the eight elements separately, or a ‘whole school’ policy would include all eight essential elements.
If your school is interested in learning more about or creating food and nutrition policies, or would like more information and support please contact your local health unit office.