As a parent or caregiver, you can help promote healthy eating for your children and other students by getting involved at school to help create a healthy food environment.
Here are some examples of how you can work towards creating a healthy food environment:
- Volunteer for your school breakfast program and encourage healthy options that are in line with the School Nutrition Program guidelines.
- For classroom celebrations, provide healthy snacks such as veggie sticks and hummus or Greek yogurt dip, fruit and yogurt dip, whole-grain crackers and cheese.
- Encourage your school to use non-food rewards or prizes such as pencils, stickers, etc. with their students.
- When organizing fundraisers, encourage healthy, non-food fundraisers like cards, candles, plants, calendars, vegetables and fruit. Fresh from the Farm is a great program to fundraise using vegetables.
- Help organize healthy catered school lunches at school that are in line with PPM 150.
- Talk to teachers and school administrators about BrightBites©, a free program that provides resources to create a healthy school nutrition environment in a fun, interactive, and easy way. As a parent, you can help to implement and support BrightBites©. Elementary and secondary schools can sign up as a whole school, an individual class, or a group, club or sports team. By working towards different initiatives in your school, you earn badges and rise up in the Hall of Fame.
- Some examples of badges are:
- Water Works Badge – Promotes water as the drink of choice in your school.
- Green Thumb Badge – Guides you in planting a school garden.
- Rise and Shine Badge – Give your breakfast program an update.
- Menu Makeover Badge – Switch up your hot lunch menu with some fresh ideas.
- Paint Your Plate Badge – Teach students about vegetables and fruit.
- Some examples of badges are:
- If you are concerned about people not having income to eat well, please visit our Health Equity page to learn about food insecurity.
Note: BrightBites© was formerly named “Nutrition Tools For Schools”. Please contact your Public Health Nurse Consultant for more information on how to get BrightBites© started at your school.
School Lunches and Snacks
Children spend about 40% of their waking hours at school, so the meals and snacks they eat there provide a major source of the energy and nutrients they need. Well-nourished children are more likely to get the energy and essential nutrients they need to grow, learn, play and develop.
Student Nutrition Programs
Did you know that most schools have a meal or snack program that is available for all students? These are called student nutrition programs. They are funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and through fundraising at the school level.
If you are an SNP volunteer at your school, take a look at our training presentations:
- Student Nutrition Program Guidelines
- Reading Food Labels
- Vegetables and Fruit
- Milk and Alternatives
- Meat and Alternatives
Nutri-eSTEP is a simple questionnaire that looks at your toddler (18–35 months) or preschooler’s (3–5 years) eating and physical activity habits. It’s a no-cost questionnaire that offers resources and tools for the whole family on meal planning, cooking, healthy growth, feeding and mealtime challenges, and more!
The Creating a Healthy Workplace Nutrition Environment toolkit helps both employers and employees create a healthy eating environment in the workplace. It offers resources and tools for the workplace to help:
- Get buy-in to promote healthy eating.
- Organize a committee to address wellness.
- Identify opportunities and priorities to make healthy eating the easy and preferred choice.
- Plan and implement actions to support healthy eating.
Shift work, or work that is outside of normal daylight hours, may affect eating habits. Visit EatRight Ontario’s Nutrition Tips for Shift Workers for strategies on how to eat well on a shift work schedule.
Recreation facilities are community hubs for people of all ages. They are key settings that can have a positive impact on the health of all residents. As such, they are an ideal location to create a healthy food environment as they already support physical activity and active lifestyles. If you are a patron or employee of a recreation centre and you are looking to offer healthier food and drink options, please visit the Municipalities webpage.
If you are a parent who has kids in sports or a coach with sport’s team, our Healthy Eating – from Toddler to Youth section has resources on healthy sideline snacks.