In January 2010, the Ontario Ministry of Education announced a new School Food and Beverage Policy governing all of Ontario's publicly funded elementary and secondary schools. The policy aims to create an environment where the healthiest choices are the easiest choices for students to make. It reinforces the knowledge, skills, and attitudes regarding healthy eating that children learn in the Ontario curriculum. Introducing nutrition standards is one part of the government's plan to develop healthy learning environments and improve student achievement. Research shows that children who eat a healthy diet are more attentive, more ready to learn, and more likely to be successful in school. 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:
Since the policy has been implemented, you may notice some changes at your elementary school. The menu prepared for lunch days has changes, and you may see that there are fewer bake sales being held at your school. Additionally, certain foods that do not meet the requirements of the policy will not be sold at your child's school, such as candy or chocolate. High schools have also undergone some changes to adhere to the new policy requirements. The cafeteria menu has changed. Many of the same food items are still being offered, but they will be prepared in more healthy way. Food and drink choices in vending machines will change, and drinks with caffeine will not be sold to students.
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The standards do not apply to food and beverages that are:
Also, a school principal, in consultation with the school council, may designate up to 10 special-event days throughout the year. On these specially designated days, food and beverages sold in schools would be exempt from the nutrition standards. Although special-event days allow greater flexibility with food and beverages, schools are encouraged to consider selling food and beverages that meet the nutrition standards, or non-food related items, for all celebrations.
View the list of Ottawa Catholic Schools that have accepted the Healthy Schools Recognition Program, and see what each school is doing to excel in this initiative.