Administrative Procedure 218: Food, Beverage and Nutrition

Legal References

Education Act: Section 264 Duties of Teacher: Pursuit of Learning; Education Act: Section 286 Duties of Supervisory Officers: Assist Teachers; Ontario Regulation 200/08: Trans Fat Standards; Ontario Regulation 298: Section 11 Duties of Principals: Supervise Instruction, Outlines of Courses on File; Ontario Regulation 298: Section 20 Duties of Teachers: Effective Instruction; R.R.O. Reg. 562: Food Premises, made under the Health Protection and Promotion Act; The Ontario Curriculum - by grade: K-Grade 8; by subject: Grades 1-8; Ontario Schools Kindergarten to Grade 12 Policy and Program Requirements 2011; Ministry of Education Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) 150 School Food and Beverage Policy; PPM161 Supporting Students with Prevalent Medical Conditions in Schools; Ontario Nutrition Standards for Schools; Healthy Food for Healthy Schools Act, 2008; Trans Fat Regulation; An Act to Protect Anaphylactic Pupils: Sabrina's Law, 2005; Bill 135, Ryan's Law, 2014

Related References

1. Direction on Food and Beverages Choices

The Director of Education provides this administrative procedure to:
  1. provide direction to principals, teachers, parent groups, students and volunteers on the choice of healthy foods and beverages for sale or distribution in schools;
  2. promote a healthy school environment that promotes and supports healthy eating for students through words, actions and modeling;
  3. enable students to make healthy food choices by providing and actively promoting nutritious food and beverage choices;
  4. encourage a positive attitude toward healthy eating;
  5. reinforce and support the nutrition education that is provided to students;
  6. promote and ensure the safe handling and preparation of food;
  7. promote respect and responsibility for self and others;
  8. monitor the implementation and compliance with PPM 150 School Food and Beverage Policy (see references);
  9. improve education and health outcomes for all students and to help promote healthy eating patterns to promote health, growth and intellectual development;
  10. influence students’ attitudes, preferences and behaviours as related to healthy food choices; and
  11. teach students the skills to make healthy choices by reinforcing those lessons through school practices.

2. Procedures Related to Food and Beverages

2.1 General

Food and beverages are typically made available to students in schools in the following ways:
    1. the sale of food and beverages (e.g., cafeterias, catered lunch programs, tuck shops, special food days, school-related special events, celebrations, and sporting events);
    2. the sale of food for fundraising purposes (e.g., bake sales);
    3. the sale of food and beverages through vending machines;
    4. the provision of food and beverages for classroom experiences, celebrations and snacks; and
    5. the provision of food in school nutrition programs (e.g., breakfast and snack programs).
2.1.1 It is the responsibility of educators to teach and to model for students how to make wise choices for a healthy lifestyle. Providing choices which meet the Nutrition Standards for Schools delivers a message consistent with nutrition teaching in the classroom (see references).

2.1.2 As positive role models, school staff members are encouraged to refrain from consuming food and beverages of minimum nutritional value when students are present.

2.1.3 Decisions about the foods and beverages being made available to students should reflect the most current Canada’s Food Guide to enable students to develop and maintain healthy eating habits.

2.1.4 School staff is encouraged to reinforce the skills, knowledge and attitudes regarding healthy eating that are developed through the various subjects and disciplines in the Ontario Curriculum.

2.2 Food Allergies

2.2.1 Principals must inform parents that it is the parents’ responsibility to advise the school if their child has a prevalent medical condition related to a food allergy, intolerance or diet-related condition. The school must be notified in writing of the specific food restrictions or dietary needs. The office will keep records of children with allergies and pass this information on to teachers/occasional teachers as appropriate (follow AP 314: Supporting Students with  Prevalent Medical Conditions).

2.2.2 Some food allergies can be life threatening. Principals and school staff are required to follow Administrative Procedure 314: Supporting Students with Prevalent Medical Conditions when a student has been identified with a prevalent medical condition (e.g., at risk of an anaphylactic incident). As directed in Administrative Procedure 314, staff must be prepared to administer emergency treatment (i.e., Sabrina’s Law). Public Health nurses are available to provide training to school staff upon request.

2.2.3 As stated in Sabrina’s Law Subsection 3(3): “If an employee has reason to believe that a pupil is experiencing an anaphylactic reaction, the employee can administer an epinephrine auto-injector or other medication prescribed to the pupil for the treatment of an anaphylactic reaction, even if there is no preauthorization to do so under subsection (1) of the law”.

2.2.4 Parents of children with food allergies should be encouraged to send all food for their children and to discourage them from trading or sharing food with others.

2.2.5 In classes where students with food allergies have been identified, parents sending food should include a complete list of ingredients. A sample form letter for parents is attached (Form 218A Request for Co-operation: Students with Food Allergies). Teachers should discourage children with allergies from trying foods if the ingredients are not known (e.g., at class parties).

2.2.6 When food is purchased from a commercial food supplier or a school culinary arts program, a list of ingredients should be requested. This list must be made available to parents upon request.

2.2.7 Foods and beverages offered to students must be prepared, served, handled and stored using safe food handling practices. Steps must be taken to ensure that such practices are followed (R.R.O. Reg. 562, “Food Premises”, made under the Health Protection and Promotion Act).

2.3 School Food and Beverage Policy and Nutrition Standards for Schools

2.3.1 Principals and staff are required to ensure that all food and beverages sold on school premises for school purposes meet the requirements of PPM 150 School Food and Beverage Policy, including the Nutrition Standards for Schools (see references).

2.3.2 The nutrition standards apply to all food and beverages sold in schools in all venues, through all programs, and through all events.

2.3.3 The standards do not apply to food and beverages that are offered in schools to students at no cost, brought from home or purchased off school premises and are not for resale in schools, available for purchase during field trips off school premises, sold in schools for non-school purposes, sold for fundraising activities that occur off school premises, and sold in staff rooms.

2.3.4 Schools may designate up to ten special event days during the academic year on which food and beverages sold in schools may be exempt from the Nutrition Standards for Schools (i.e., days on which there may be a bake sale, parent-teacher nights, sporting events, school dances, candy [candygrams] sales days, etc.). Principals must consult with School Council and are encouraged to consult with staff and students when designating these ten days during the school year as special-event days. Notwithstanding this exemption, on special-event days, schools are encouraged to sell food and beverages which meet the Nutrition Standards for Schools.

2.3.5 The following other requirements must also be met: Principals and staff must also comply with Ontario Regulation 200/08, “Trans Fat Standards”, and any other applicable regulations made under the Education Act. Principals and staff must ensure that students have access to drinking water during the school day. Students should be encouraged to provide a safe, reusable water bottle for this purpose. The diversity of students and staff must be taken into consideration in order to accommodate religious and/or cultural needs (see AP 142 Religious Accommodations).

2.4 Practices for Consideration

Schools should take into consideration the following when food or beverages are sold or provided in schools:

2.4.1 offer, when available and where possible, food and beverages that are produced in Ontario;
2.4.2 be environmentally aware (e.g., reduce food waste, reuse containers, and recycle food scraps);
2.4.3 avoid offering food or beverages as a reward or an incentive for good behavior, achievement, or participation; and
2.4.4 students with prevalent medical conditions.

2.5 Other Supports

2.5.1 The Director of Education encourages partnerships for the development of food programs that support good nutrition and optimal learning capacity (e.g., School Nutrition Partnerships, local Health Unit and Ministry initiatives).
2.5.2 Schools should pursue fundraising programs that sell either healthy food choices or involve non-food items.
2.5.3 Schools are encouraged to establish a Healthy Schools committee comprising staff, students and parents to support the promotion of healthy living.
2.5.4 Schools are encouraged to work with public health professionals to encourage and support healthy eating in schools.

2.6 Record Keeping and Monitoring

2.6.1 The principal should request and keep a record of current Vendor Letters of Compliance from all vendors from which food and beverages are purchased for sale to students (see Form 218B Sample Vendor Letter of Compliance).
2.6.2 The principal should keep on file an up-to-date record of the ten exempt special event days for the current school year.

2.7 In-School Food Service Suppliers and Culinary Arts Programs Selling Food to Students

The following should be included in food service agreements between the board and food providers:
      1. a minimum of one full-time cafeteria employee certified in safe food handling, and
      2. a letter of compliance indicating that the requirements of the Nutrition Standards for Schools are being met, which states that at least 80% of all food choices and at least 80% of all beverage choices offered for sale in any venue, program, or event are from the Sell Most category, and that no food or beverages will be sold from the Not Permitted for Sale category.

3. Forms and References

This AP was revised in consultation with personnel representing the Huron County and Perth District Health Units.
Revised July 2018