Faith-based diet: Many religions include guidance on what is appropriate to eat in order to demonstrate faith. Student Nutrition Programs (SNP) should make an effort to offer foods and beverages that are consistent with a student’s faith, while still meeting the SNP Guidelines.

Culturally appropriate diet: A person's ethnic and cultural background has a huge impact on their food choices and eating practices. SNPs should make an effort to reflect the diversity of the school community with its food and beverage choices, while still meeting the Guidelines.

Plant-based or vegetarian diet: Students following a plant-based or vegetarian diet can include fortified soy beverages and a variety of plant-based protein foods such as beans, lentils, tofu, etc. They may avoid or limit dairy and eggs.

Vegan diet: Individuals following a vegan diet do not eat any foods that come from animals including eggs, dairy products, gelatin, and honey.

Medically directed diet: Particular attention is required when providing food to students with certain medical conditions. Parents and caregivers are the best source of information for their student’s specific needs.

Food allergies and intolerances: In order to help keep children and youth with food allergies safe and feeling well, use these best practices:

  • Supervise young children while eating.
  • Have a “no sharing rule” while eating.
  • Encourage all students to wash their hands before and after eating.
  • Ensure eating surfaces are cleaned before and after the program.
  • Offer alternative options for students with food allergies (for example, students with milk allergies can be offered a fortified soy beverage instead of milk and students with Celiac disease can have gluten-free whole grain rice crackers instead of whole wheat crackers). Consult with the parent or guardian before offering an alternative to a student.

Food Allergy Canada has more information about the differences between food allergies and food intolerances.

SNPs need to follow their school’s anaphylaxis policy which includes anaphylaxis emergency plans for students with allergies. Consult the school’s principal for more information.

Additional resources about food allergies in schools:

Should any other special dietary requirements arise, contact a registered dietitian at your local public health unit.