Section 2: guiding principles
The SNP Guidelines are consistent with Canada's Food Guide (CFG) and recognize that:
- good nutrition is important for healthy growth and development.
- healthy children and youth are better prepared to learn.
- good nutrition can reduce the risk of health problems in later years.
- students can use what they learn about healthy eating in the classroom and experience in the SNP to make healthier choices throughout their day.
Guiding principles for Student Nutrition Program (SNP):
- A meal is made up of at least:
- one vegetable or fruit, plus
- one protein food, plus
- one whole grain food
- A snack is made up of at least:
- one vegetable or fruit, plus
- one protein food or one whole grain food
- A variety of vegetables, fruits, protein foods and whole grain foods are offered.
- Drinking water is always available.
- Meals and snacks emphasize minimally processed foods. This means offering fewer pre-packaged, ready-to-eat foods when possible.
- Safe food handling practices are used when handling, storing and preparing food.
- The school’s anaphylaxis policy is consulted and followed.
- Environmentally friendly food service practices are used when possible, such as using reusable or recyclable dishes and utensils. Waste is minimized from food and packaging and disposable items. School practices are followed.
- A pleasant eating environment is encouraged, where children and youth are supported to respond to their internal cues for hunger and fullness.
- Ontario food and beverages are served when possible.
Tips to help make the SNP the best it can be
- Work with the school’s principal to determine how much time is available for children and youth to eat. At least 20 minutes for meals is ideal, when possible.
- Provide an eating environment that encourages pleasant conversation. Minimize distractions, such as screens.
- Test new recipes. Try different flavours, textures, and colour combinations.
- Offer different vegetables and fruits throughout the month. Serve seasonal food items when possible.
- Offer food choices that are inclusive of the faiths and cultures of the school community.
- Involve children, youth, parents and volunteers when planning menus and choosing foods.
- Involve children and youth with food preparation and clean up where possible. Use safe food handling practices to prepare food safely.
- Respect that the appetites of children and youth can change for a variety of reasons. Students are encouraged to listen to their hunger and fullness cues. If a student is full but has not finished their food, do not put pressure on them to eat more. Likewise, do not withhold food from a student if you think they have had enough.
- Avoid offering food as a reward or an incentive.
- Children and youth are easily influenced by casual comments and/or conversations about weight, body size and calories. Show a positive attitude when discussing food and health in front of students.
- Connect with your local community development coordinator, food and logistics coordinator or lead agency to learn how they can support your SNP (for example, information on approved vendors, approved food products, menu design, etc.).
- Connect with your local public health unit for more information about nutrition and food safety.
Updated: February 02, 2024
Published: July 15, 2021