Frequently Asked Questions

School Food and Beverage Policy
Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Why has the government released a school food and beverage policy?
The government passed the Healthy Food for Healthy Schools Act in April 2008 to make schools healthier places for students to learn.
We want to create an environment where the healthiest choices are the easiest choices for students to make.

This policy is an important step in enhancing students' health. It reinforces the knowledge, skills, and attitudes regarding healthy eating developed through the Ontario curriculum. The policy will also help reduce students' risks of developing serious, chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.

What does this policy mean for schools?

All food and beverages sold in schools for school purposes must meet the nutrition standards set out in the policy. This includes food and beverages sold in all venues (e.g., cafeterias, vending machines, tuck shops), through all programs (e.g., catered lunch programs), and at all events (e.g., bake sales, sports events).

When does this change take effect?

All schools must be in compliance with the School Food and Beverage Policy which took effect on September 1, 2011.

Will this increase the cost of food sold in schools?

Healthier food does not necessarily cost more. A study done by the University of Minnesota found that more nutritious lunches don't necessarily cost more to produce. It also found that school lunch sales don't decline because healthier meals are served.

Do the nutrition standards apply to food or beverages sold for fundraising activities?

It depends where the fundraising takes place. The nutrition standards apply to food and beverages sold on school premises for school purposes,including fundraising.

The nutrition standards do not apply to food and beverages sold off school premises. This would include fundraising activities that occur in a community centre or door-to-door.

What about special-event days such as pizza lunches?

A school principal, in consultation with the school council, may designate up to ten days as special-event days on which food and beverages sold in schools would be exempt from the nutrition standards.Principals are also encouraged to consult with their students in making these decisions.

However, schools are encouraged to consider selling food and beverages that meet the nutrition standards or non-food related items for all celebrations.

Who was consulted in developing this policy?

The policy was developed by the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Ministries of Health Promotion, Children and Youth Services and Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The Ministry of Education formed the Nutrition Standards for Schools Committee, a sub-committee of the ministry's Healthy Schools Working Table that included representatives from education, health and the food industry sectors, to advise on the development of the policy and nutrition standards. Consultations were also held with over 40 organizations and groups.

Do other jurisdictions have school food and beverage policies?

Yes, many jurisdictions have policies and most Canadian provinces have policies or guidelines related to food and beverages in schools. For example, British Columbia has mandatory guidelines that apply to all food and beverages sold to students.