Nutrition for Schools
Please note that for the 2021-2022 school year, some Public Health services may be limited, offered only virtually or may have been put on hold due to the re-deployment of staff to support the COVID-19 pandemic.
Healthy eating contributes to school performance and helps students achieve positive physical and mental health. When students are better nourished throughout the day, they are better able to cope with stressors and have the energy they need to be active, think clearly and obtain the most they can from their school day. What students eat and drink affects brain function and scientific research is showing a link between healthy eating and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Public Health offers services and suggested activities to promote healthy eating and support overall health and well-being. Remember to involve students in the planning of nutrition activities. This not only educates them on valuable nutrition information, but allows them to build on their and strengths and skills, increase their confidence and improve their self-esteem, which all contribute to more resilient students and positive mental health.
To help children and youth to feel good about themselves, remember to promote healthy eating in a positive way for elementary schools and secondary schools when planning any healthy eating initiatives at your school.
Does your school have a healthy food culture? Watch this video to find out what this means for your school.
York Region Public Health offers the following nutrition programs and services for your school:
Nutrition Services staff is available to consult with both elementary and secondary schools about how to create a healthy school food culture and supportive environment that encourages healthy eating. We can work with your healthy school committee, parent council and/or student councils to help identify ways to improve the school nutrition culture. We strive to use a youth engagement approach by involving students in the planning, implementation and evaluation of health promotion programs.
We can also consult with you on the Ontario Healthy Food for Healthy Schools Act and ensure that foods being offered and sold meet or exceed the Ministry of Education’s Ontario School Food and Beverage Policy (PPM 150). Food that may be affected by this policy include food being sold for fundraising, catered lunches and food offered at classroom celebrations.
For more information related to promoting healthy eating at your school and creating a healthy school food culture, request a consultation with a Public Health Dietitian by e-mailing [email protected].
Teacher Support Services and Classroom Resources
“It is important for teachers to establish a healthy eating environment in the classroom by ensuring that the topics taught, approaches taken and environments, in which students learn, are supportive of healthy eating“. (Ontario Ministry of Education, Elementary Teacher Resource Guide)
For Elementary School Teachers
For Teachers and Educators
For Secondary School Teachers
- Curriculum Support Resources for Nutrition is appropriate for teachers who teach Geography, Family Studies, Hospitality and Physical Health Education courses. It includes resources and links on body image and self-esteem, body weight and obesity, food insecurity, comprehensive school nutrition, Canadian Agriculture, Canada’s Food Guide and The School Food and Beverage Policy (PPM 150). There are also links to fact sheets on various nutrition topics relevant to teens.
- This family studies curriculum support resource is intended to support teachers in teaching the healthy eating expectations in the Foods and Nutrition courses HFN10/20 and HFA4U. Developed by Registered Dietitians throughout Ontario, it provides reliable and credible references/links to teach the various expectations related to healthy eating, food and nutrition.
For more information, contact us at @email
My Healthy Lunch Challenge
Due to the Public Health pandemic response, My Health Lunch Challenge will not be offered for the 2021-2022 school year. Please check back next year for exciting updates!
My Healthy Lunch Challenge is offered once a year. The challenge is for students and their parents/guardians to plan and make healthy lunches for one week. Teachers are encouraged to link this campaign to the grade-specific curriculum. All participating classes are entered into a draw for a healthy lunch party courtesy of York Region Public Health. To learn more, visit york.ca/schoolnutrition
For more information and ideas about promoting healthy lunches and snacks to your school community, visit brightbites.ca/
For Teachers and Educators: Tips for Teaching about Healthy Eating Effectively
Fact sheets and Additional Resources for Parents and Students
- Canada's Food Guide
- Packing Healthy Lunches and Snacks Factsheet
- Healthy Beverages for Children and Adults
- Packing School Lunches (Government of Canada)
BrightBites is a website that awards schools with badges for activities that promote healthy eating and improve the school’s food culture. BrightBites makes improving school nutrition fun, easy and rewarding! Win badges, receive recognition, and watch your school transform — one bite at time.
BrightBites topics include food for celebrations, catered lunches, packed lunches, curriculum connections and more! You can share your success story to receive a digital badge that will appear on the BrightBites website. You can even share this badge on social media and on your school’s website!
Need more information? A Registered Dietitian from York Region Public Health can provide a short presentation on how BrightBites can transform your school – one bite at a time! For more information, contact @email
Student Nutrition Programs – Food for Learning
York Region Food for Learning is a community partnership that supports breakfast and snack programs for elementary and secondary schools. The partnership provides expertise, funding and resources to develop and sustain student nutrition programs.
For more information, visit York Region Food for Learning
Due to the Public Health pandemic response, You’re the Chef training will not be offered for the 2021-2022 school year. Please check back next year for exciting updates!
You’re the Chef
You’re the Chef is a cooking program with a focus on fruits and vegetables for children in Grades 5, 6, 7 and 8. The elementary school program runs once a week for five weeks. Students make two recipes each week and learn:
- Safe-handling and basic kitchen safety
- Food skills by preparing healthy recipes
- Different ways to include vegetables and fruit in meals and snacks
- About healthy food choices
The program is run by volunteers. Volunteers must attend a four hour training session led by York Region Public Health. Training is offered four times a year, twice in October and twice in February. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no training sessions in October. The following material will be covered in the workshop:
- Cooking program set-up
- Food safety
- Required equipment
- Selecting recipes and menu planning
- Food skill demonstrations and practice
- Cooking recipes
- Enjoying and sharing prepared recipes together
- An understanding of how to teach and guide others to prepare and cook simple, enjoyable and affordable meals
Once trained, volunteers can run the program at their school at any time. Registration is now closed.
To receive the most current program resources, schools must complete the Program Information Form each time they run You’re the Chef and submit this form to York Region Community and Health Services.
Note: The program is provided at no cost for York Region elementary schools. However, schools are responsible for purchasing their own ingredients. Basic cooking equipment is also required.
To learn more, speak to your school’s public health nurse or call 1-877-464-9675 ext 74335.
Promoting Nutrition in Secondary Schools
Nutrition Activity Ideas for High Schools
This resource includes nutrition activities that have already been done in schools throughout Ontario. They are linked with the Ministry of Education’s Foundations for a Healthy School.
Helping Secondary Schools Promote Healthy Eating in a positive Way
This resource goes through Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from teachers, volunteers and staff related to body image, self-esteem, healthy role-modeling and how to teach about healthy eating in a way that supports mental well-being at the secondary school level.
For more information, contact us at @email
The programs are provided at no cost.